The disagreement over the future of Medicaid funding in Arkansas between Governor Asa Hutchinson and conservative legislators appears unlikely to be neatly resolved. If legislators do not agree to fund Hutchinson’s plan to continue Obamacare’s optional Medicaid expansion (which was once named the “private option” and which we now call “Arkansas Works”), what will happen?
Some observers compare this situation to the result of budget confrontations at the federal level: namely, a government shutdown. However, Little Rock is not Washington, D.C. The Arkansas budget process operates differently than the federal budget process. A close look at Arkansas’s system of government budgeting reveals that there is no reason to fear bad consequences from a budget impasse in Little Rock. Although some advocates of Medicaid expansion will argue that lawmakers are morally obliged to vote for all proposed spending bills, this line of argument is mistaken. In fact, there are good reasons to think that an outcome that ends Arkansas’s Medicaid expansion would benefit Arkansas.
To read our newest report on this topic – The Sky Is Not Falling: A Guide to Arkansas Budget Politics, by AAI’s Marc Kilmer – click here.