Posted 1/27/2014 12:00 am
Arkansas Business supports the so-called private option, the mechanism that extends health care coverage to thousands of Arkansans.
Now, that coverage is threatened. The state Legislature must reauthorize funding for the program, approved last year by the thinnest of margins. One of the state senators who previously had supported the private option, Republican Missy Irvin of Mountain View, has voiced opposition. And John Cooper, the Republican elected to replace private option supporter state Sen. Paul Bookout, who resigned last summer in disgrace, opposes reauthorization.
Failure to reauthorize also jeopardizes Gov. Mike Beebe’s proposed $5 billion fiscal 2014-15 budget because that budget relies on $89 million in savings the state expects to accrue as a result of Obamacare funding, including the private option.
The Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce, not usually considered left-leaning, supports the private option, saying last week that “Arkansas businesses will face a substantial tax increase if the Arkansas Legislature backs away from the Private Option it put in place in its last session.” The chamber cited a study estimating that failure of the private option would cost businesses in Arkansas $27 million to $40 million in shared responsibility tax penalties under the Affordable Care Act.
“This additional expense will have a chilling effect on the growth plans of Arkansas businesses,” chamber President Randy Zook said.
We hope legislative foes of the private option reconsider.
But we also want to note an interesting circumstance: Because an Arkansas legislator, Bookout, played fast and loose with campaign money, thousands of Arkansans face the possibility of having their insurance canceled and the governor faces the possibility of having to devise a new budget.
This is something more than a tangent; it’s an illustration of the importance of ethical behavior, and not just because it’s ethical. Choices matter, and not just to those making them.