Arkansas: My God. Tom Cotton proposes tearing healthcare coverage away from up to 20% of the state.
First, I just want to take a minute to note that over the past year, I've discovered that while there's lots of good reporting on the ACA nationally, there are certain states which have one particular person who's the "go to" journalist for all things Obamacare-related.
We've noted that as much as Rep. Tom Cotton likes to talk about repealing Obamacare, he doesn't much like talking about just what would happen if Obamacare was repealed. In particular, he really doesn't like talking about the 200,000 Arkansans who have gained coverage via the private option, coverage that would go away if Obamacare went away.
The talking points he uses to dodge the question — and the votes he's taken — reveal that Cotton in fact would both eliminate all funding for the 200,000 people on the private option and dramatically slash the Medicaid and CHIP funds used in Arkansas to provide health coverage to the elderly in nursing homes, children in ARKids, the disabled, and very poor parents.
Yes, that's right. Tom Cotton doesn't just want to kick the 200,000 of his fellow Arkansans who just received healthcare coverage this year (some for the first time in their lives) in the face, he's basically saying, "to hell with it, while we're at it let's kick a bunch of nursing home patients, poor kids and disabled to the curb while we're at it."
How big would those cuts be? As we noted, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found that compared to current law, the Ryan budget's block grants would cut Medicaid funds — including funds for CHIP programs for kids like ARKids — by more than a quarter by 2024, with the cuts increasing even more after that. Over the course of ten years, it would mean slashing $732 billion, or 20 percent of the funding which would be available under current law.
...Again, the cuts would get worse over time — the hypothetical block grants would cut $1.5 billion in 2010 alone, wiping out half of the federal funds for Medicaid and ARKids.
Now, Ramsey's article doesn't specify how many people this would impact, and it's not an exact correlation since this is talking about slashing the budget for the programs, not kicking specific people off, but in 2010 (pre-ACA expansion), Arkansas had 721,000 people on Medicaid.
Yes, that's right. Depending on whether you go with 20% or 50%, and assuming a 1-to-1 correlation, that means that Tom Cotton, the guy who's hoping to become the next Senator from Arkansas, wants to spit in the faces of between 344,000 and 560,000 Arkansas citizens (200K + 144K or 360K).
UPDATE: Whoops, I almost forgot! Remember, there's also about 40,000 people enrolled in private policies via the ACA in Arkansas (that is, via "regular" ACA enrollments, not the "private option" via Medicaid expansion). Tack those on and it's 384,000 - 600,000 people getting stomped on.
And as of this writing, he's ahead in the polls.