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"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

The Declaration of Independence


Presenting the 2013 Freedom Scorecard (Updated)

It's that moment you've all been waiting for -- the full unveiling of AAI's 2013 Freedom Scorecard!

The report is the most thorough of its kind to ever be produced in the state of Arkansas, scoring over 100 bills from last year's legislative session.

Here's an excerpt from the report:

The Advance Arkansas Institute and Conduit for Commerce are pleased to present this study of the 2013 voting records of legislators serving in the Arkansas General Assembly. Arkansas’s 2013 Freedom Scorecard discloses and rates legislative votes on roughly 100 notable bills of the 89th General Assembly. Notability, of course, is in the eye of the beholder; in this case, the beholders are the authors and producers of the study. Although it is not the role of AAI or CFC to endorse (or condemn) the performance of any particular legislator, we believe that the data illuminate how the votes of some legislators advanced the well-being of Arkansas citizens, while the votes of other legislators diminished it.

Our study ranked the voting records of legislators by totaling up the subscores they earned to derive a final score. That final score is a quick-and-dirty measure of each legislator’s commitment to liberty and good government. That score is dependent on a variety of subscores -- we measured, through their votes on various bills, legislators’ fidelity to a dozen different values: clean elections, criminal justice, education reform, economic freedom, Obamacare and health care reform, integrity in government, lawsuit reform, personal liberty, anti-cronyism, Second Amendment rights, smaller government, and tax relief. Each of those dozen values created a separate subscore for each legislator, which we represent as percentages.

AAI/CFC recognized several groups of legislators for their commitments to advancing freedom in Arkansas: the two legislators with the highest overall scores in each chamber were recognized as "Best Friends of Freedom." The top-tier of scorers in each chamber were recognized as "Friends of Freedom." Legislators who withstood immense pressure and voted against expanding Medicaid were recognized with the Calvin Coolidge Award. And finally, two legislators were recognized as "Legislator of the Year" (one for each chamber of the legislature) for their work in sponsoring and passing important legislation.

To see how your legislators fared, click here.

[A brief 4/15/14 update on technical corrections from Alex Cartwright, coauthor of the report, follows:

Recently, two different public officials alerted us about a few minor errors in our 2013 Freedom Scorecard. We did a top-to-bottom review and discovered that legislators’ votes had been mistranscribed in a few instances. We then recalculated the final scores with corrected data.

The point of the scorecard is to use recorded votes in order to compare legislators to one another in a relative way. When we recalculated the scores, we found that legislators' scores had not changed materially: our recalculation resulted in changes that amounted, in most cases, to moving one point up or down on what is approximately a 100-point scale. (Of course, depending on one’s perspective, a small change might seem large, especially with respect to our subscores. For instance, we took five House votes into account for our “Lawsuit Reform” subscore. Changing one vote of those five votes, for instance, could change a 60% subscore to a 40% subscore or an 80% subscore. To repeat, that is the kind of subscore change one might expect when changing one vote.)

We apologize for our error. The revised scorecard has been posted above.]


Medicaid Expansion: Bad For Arkansas Hospitals

Our latest policy paper examines the impact of the “private” option on Arkansas hospitals. The news is not good.

Authors Dan Greenberg and Shane Stacks explain that the basic realities of Arkansas hospital finance cannot justify the private option, or any other form of Medicaid expansion. Key findings include:

  • The problem of hospitals’ uncompensated care is driven primarily by bad debt, which the private option does not address;

  • The problem of hospital bad debt, and uncompensated care generally, is likely overstated by hospitals’ use of “charge basis” accounting;

  • The private option will weaken hospital balance sheets by increasing both their bad debt and their undercompensated Medicaid costs;

  • The private option will increase both the costs and the burdens in already-strained Arkansas hospital emergency rooms;

  • The Affordable Care Act’s scheduled Medicaid cuts which supposedly justified the private option – like the Affordable Care Act’s scheduled employer mandate – never happened.

The report contains a statistical analysis of many of the publicly disclosed Form 990s that nonprofit hospitals have filed. The analysis demonstrates that undercompensated Medicaid expenses, which the private option is supposed to remedy, only constitute about 10% of hospitals’ uncompensated care problem -- and that the private option will by and large leave the other 90% of uncompensated care unaffected.

You can click here to read  “The Cure Is Worse Than the Disease: Why the Private Option Will Hurt, Not Help, Arkansas’s Hospitals.”



Uncovering the Obamacare Exchanges

 Do you understand how the Obamacare exchanges will affect you? Well, don’t worry about it: nobody else does either.

In fact, the Obamacare exchanges create extraordinary pitfalls for people who want to get married, change jobs, save money, or – indeed – seek medical attention. If you think you might face any of these life choices in the future, you owe it to yourself to read the two papers we’ve just published on the Obamacare exchanges.

Our first paper explains how the exchanges can limit your choices and create unforeseen tax liabilities. Our second paper explains how the exchanges will increase the role of the IRS in your life – through greater complexity in the tax system, an increased likelihood of identity theft, larger probabilities of more intrusive audits, and (of course) Obamacare’s 18 new taxes.

The Advance Arkansas Institute is proud to publish these two new papers in concert with the Foundation for Government Accountability.


Register For The 'Uncover Obamacare' Tour Here

We are proud to announce a new series of town hall meetings focused on Obamacare and its impact on Arkansas: ‘Uncover Obamacare.’

 The meetings will be held around the state next week and will feature Christie Herrera of the Foundation for Government Accountability, Jonathan Small of the Oklahoma Center for Public Affairs, and our very own Dan Greenberg of AAI.

A free meal will be provided to the first fifty registrants for each event. Meetings will be held in:

To RSVP and reserve your seat, click on the corresponding link above. We look forward to seeing you there!


2013 was a historic year for the Advance Arkansas Institute. Not only did we work with lawmakers to reform government and bring integrity to the ballot box, we also:

  • Provided daily news coverage and analysis here at, breaking multiple major news stories, doubling our web traffic from 2012, and reaching the highest traffic mark since The Arkansas Project began its affiliation with AAI

  • Produced a new Freedom Scorecard that grades legislators on their votes

  • Published multiple policy papers on multiple policy topics

  • Testified before legislative committees

  • Gained national recognition for our social media presence

  • Launched a new podcast that has garnered hundreds of listeners every week

  • Appeared weekly on local radio shows to talk about freedom, liberty, and our reports

  • Hosted half a dozen town hall meetings around the state to educate Arkansans about the perils of Obamacare and Medicaid expansion

  • Hosted luncheons with national experts such as Steve Moore of the Wall Street Journal

We couldn’t have done any of this without your help — and in 2014, we’re counting on your help to continue advancing freedom in Arkansas.

Coming up in 2014, we will be:

  • Continuing our daily news coverage at

  • Continuing our weekly podcast and radio appearances

  • Hosting more town halls to educate Arkansans about the perils of Obamacare

  • Publishing a new edition of the “Action Plan for Arkansas,” a policy-making guide for state legislators

  • Expanding our Freedom Scorecard to measure legislative performance in an unprecedented way

  • And much more!

We want you to be a part of this movement. Can you give $50 today?

When you give to AAI, you aren’t just making a charitable, tax-deductible contribution – you’re becoming a member of our team. As a team member, you’ll be sent the latest AAI publications, reports, newsletters, and invitations to AAI events.

Will you become a member for just $50 today?

We want to continue to educate Arkansas citizens and policymakers about dangers of big government and higher taxes — and especially the extraordinary and dangerous burdens that Medicaid expansion and the private option will put on every health-care provider and taxpayer.

A generous donor has offered to match any donation we receive of $500 or more by the end of this year. That means the value of your gift could double, but time is running out.

Click here if you want to be a part of this unique opportunity today.

It is a privilege to stand beside you in the fight for limited government and free markets. Together, we can make Arkansas a beacon of liberty and a refuge of freedom for future generations.


The Advance Arkansas Institute: King of All Media

Are you getting our podcast -- a 20-minute rundown on the latest in news about liberty? Are you on our email list -- a weekly roundup of links that tell you what you need to know about politics and policy?

If not, why not?

Go here to find out about our podcasts -- and to get on our mailing list, just type your name in the box at left.


Five Arguments Against A State Insurance Exchange

Under the Affordable Care Act, Arkansas must either establish a state health insurance exchange or allow the federal government to do so: each exchange will accept and process citizen enrollment in health insurance plans. Two-thirds of the states have declined to establish state exchanges, thus leaving exchange creation to the federal government; given the 33-state rejection of health care exchanges, it is a bit of a mystery why HB1508 – which establishes a state exchange – passed the House and is on the Senate floor today. The Beebe administration has worked tirelessly to establish a state exchange for years; following are five reasons why the state Senate should decline Governor Beebe’s invitation to create a new insurance bureaucracy.

1. A state exchange will not increase local policymakers' control over insurance providers or create better customer service.

2. A state exchange will burden state taxpayers and state budgeters. 

3. A state exchange will load political accountability onto state officials for federal Obamacare problems.

To read the other two reasons and an in-depth analysis, read our full paper.


Can Arkansas Escape From Medicaid Expansion if the Federal Government Breaks Its Commitments?

Despite a failed vote yesterday on HB 1219, Arkansas House members are likely to have another bite at the apple today on funding the “private option.” Lawmakers have spent a substantial amount of time this session creating and designing this particular version of Medicaid expansion, which would funnel Medicaid payments through private insurance companies. Legislators who must choose whether to fund Medicaid expansion (whether it is labeled the private option or not) should understand that a central argument made in expansion’s favor is groundlessly overconfident.

More precisely, the advocates of the private option version of Medicaid expansion have explained that, if their plan does not work as expected (if, for instance, the federal government fails to make good on its future commitments), then Arkansas can always exit the expansion and return to the previous status quo. Unfortunately, private-option advocates have ignored both statutes and case law when explaining that Arkansas can always check out of the private option if the federal government fails to meet its funding commitments. Advocates of the private option therefore make a fundamental mistake when they explain that Medicaid expansion can risklessly be explored or casually exited; in fact, there is substantial reason to believe that when a state chooses Medicaid expansion, it is something like a decision to go down a one-way street. 

To read our latest policy paper, click here.


How Medicaid Expansion and the "Private Option" Will Lock Its Clients Into Poverty

Several Arkansas lawmakers have spent a substantial amount of time this session creating and designing their preferred version of Medicaid expansion: they call it the “private option,” because it would funnel Medicaid payments through private insurance companies. Legislators who must choose whether to fund Medicaid expansion (whether it is labeled the “private option” or not) should understand the economic catastrophe that such expansion will trigger: namely, the retarding of economic growth and the trapping of clients into low-wage jobs. 

To read our complete paper, click here.


POLL: Arkansans Less Likely to Support ‘Private Option’ Than Traditional Medicaid Expansion  

Voters see Medicaid as flawed program, rife with fraud & abuse

A new survey conducted by Magellan Strategies for the Advance Arkansas Institute and The Liberty Foundation of America shows a plurality of Arkansans are less likely to support the Medicaid “private option” than traditional Medicaid expansion as set forth in the Affordable Care Act.  

Dan Greenberg, AAI President, said the results are indicative of a disconnect between voters and their legislators: “In 2012, voters sent a new conservative majority of lawmakers to the legislature -- based in part on a platform of opposing Obamacare and Medicaid expansion. Now, they’re trying to rebrand expansion and pass it under a different name. This poll shows a clear desire from conservative Arkansans to see the Medicaid program reformed, not expanded. The legislature should slow down and gather more information before rushing through a new law in the final days of the legislative session that will entrench Obamacare in Arkansas and create gigantic new liabilities for taxpayers.”

Matt Mayer, President of Opportunity Ohio and Advisor to The Liberty Foundation, said the results show an enormous partisan split on Medicaid expansion: “A majority of Republicans and unaffiliated voters see Medicaid as a flawed program. 75% of Republicans and 50% of unaffiliated voters oppose expansion given the variance in new enrollees. Additionally, these voters do no support expansion because the program contains so much waste, fraud, and abuse, and there is little belief that the federal government will actually keep it promises to fund the majority of the program.”

When Arkansans were given the state cost of expansion, a near majority oppose both private and traditional expansion.   

This poll was conducted with a sample size of 845 Arkansans and a margin of error of +/- 3.35%. To read more results from the poll and to see the methodology, click the links below.