Posted 3/10/2014 12:00 am
It shouldn’t be a profile in courage for legislators to vote to accept federal government money to provide health insurance to working adults who simply don’t earn enough money to afford health insurance. After all, Arkansas legislators seem to have no compunction about accepting federal highway dollars and federal education dollars and national park and forest dollars, nor does anyone seem to want to repeal the law that provides federal money for the Army Corps of Engineers to operate dams and campgrounds.
But the federal health care law has been demonized to such an extent that it actually was courageous for all 76 who voted to continue funding the private option last week, especially those final three Republicans — Kim Hammer of Benton, Mary Lou Slinkard of Gravette and Skip Carnine of Rogers — who switched their votes to “yes.”
Not only did they preserve, for one year, the private insurance only recently granted to households earning no more than 138 percent of the poverty level, they also relieved the state of the misery of vote after vote after vote.
(Memo to Arkansas: Our state constitution still needs the overhaul we knew it needed 30 years ago. In these polarized times, a 75 percent majority is an unreasonable requirement for any legislation. Maybe it always was.)
The working poor and health care providers can breathe easy for the time being. The rest of us can look forward to — by which we mean dread — the interminable replaying of “Obamacare” as the ultimate evil in at least half of the back-to-back political ads that will blare from our televisions and radios for the next nine months. It’s certainly fair game.
And if that’s the price we pay for preserving coverage for 100,000-plus of our neighbors, it’s a price we’ll pay. Maybe not gladly or without complaint, but it sure beats the alternative. n