Insurance Commissioner Jay Bradford issued a press release today that follows talking points from the Democratic Party of Arkansas blaming Arkansas Republican state legislators (although never mentioning Republicans by name) for a federal health benefits exchange instead of a state-run exchange.
Not surprisingly, Republican lawmakers see it differently.
“If Jay Bradford and the Democratic Party of Arkansas are against federally-run healthcare systems, they should issue a press release stating opposition to Healthcare Reform, announce their opposition to the re-election of President Obama, and ask the state to join the lawsuit to overturn the healthcare law,” responded Republican House Minority Leader John Burris.
Burris was one of six Republican legislative leaders who penned a letter to Gov. Mike Beebe voicing opposition to the state applying for a grant last month.
“Our position is very clear,” continued Burris. “Exchanges are the vehicle for the implementation of healthcare reform. The rules are unclear, as is the future of the law that mandated them. Arkansas should join the lawsuit and oppose implementation at all levels until there is a resolution by the Supreme Court.”
Lieutenant Governor Mark Darr agreed, telling me that he appreciated “all members of the assembly for standing up for the near 70% of Arkansans who do not support socialized medicine.”
“If Democrat-appointed agency heads and Democrat-elected officials want to place blame on those members that listen to their constituents (bosses) of all political stripes, then so be it,” said Darr in an e-mail. “But I certainly appreciate the steadfastness of the elected officials who have not succumbed to an over-reaching federal government and desperate administration.”
“We should spend zero tax dollars, whether they be federal or state on a law that possibly will be defeated by the courts or discounted by a new Congress or new Commander in Chief,” continued Darr. “These members and constituents know that there is no such thing as ‘free money’ to set up the exchanges. At the end of the day, it comes out of their pockets.”
“The people of Arkansas deserve the right to know where their state elected officials stand on issues. The days of straddling a fence are quickly coming to an end and silence should be and will be a show of support and weakness,” he added.
“It’s irresponsible for the Democratic Party of Arkansas to advocate a key component to Obamacare when the law is pending before the Supreme Court and could be declared unconstitutional this summer,” said Republican Party of Arkansas Communications Director Katherine Vasilos. “We simply do not need to spend taxpayer money establishing Obamacare when there is still a question to whether it is legal.”
“By refusing to join the lawsuit challenging Obamacare’s constitutionality, Governor Mike Beebe and Attorney General Dustin McDaniel have already given the nod of approval to President Barack Obama. If Commisioner Bradford’s boss Gov. Beebe wants Obamacare in Arkansas, then he can have it – nothing stands in his way.” continued Vasilos.
“Today, the state Republican Party calls on every Democratic legislator to take a position on Obamacare. Legislative Republicans are clear in their opposition to the President’s job-killing health care law,” said Republican Party of Arkansas Communications Director Katherine Vasilos. “The Democratic Party of Arkansas needs to stop hiding, and start telling the people of Arkansas exactly how they stand.”
one two Democratic State Representatives has done just that and has opposed the applying for the grant.
“I wasn’t crazy about the idea to begin with,” said Rep. Nate Steel (D-Nashville.) “Federal grant funds always come with strings attached. I’m not certain what those strings will be yet, but until we know more, I don’t believe we should apply for them. Now that the Supreme Court has granted cert, we should wait for the ruling and proceed in accordance with it.”
Rep. James McLean (D-Batesville) thinks it is the right decision not to apply for the grants.
“I work for the people of Independence County and they don’t support the health care exchanges,” said McLean. “I think there are lots of unknowns and lots of questions that need to be answered. We should instead be focused on the economy and creating jobs for the middle class.”