LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Gov. Mike Beebe said Tuesday he supports expanding Medicaid eligibility in Arkansas under the federal health care law after officials assured him the state could later opt out, setting up a potentially heated fight with Republican lawmakers as they try to win control of the state Legislature.
Beebe, a Democrat who had said he was inclined to support the expansion, said he decided to back it after receiving those assurances in writing from the federal government. Beebe noted that the expansion will still require support from state lawmakers next year.
“I’m for it,” Beebe said. “I think it’s good for our people because it’s helping folks that don’t have insurance now that are working their tails off. They’re not sitting on a couch somewhere asking for something.”
Major kudos on the framing of the issue Governor. Major kudos.
The way to win this is, first and foremost, to make sure Democrats keep both chambers of the state legislature, so get out and support your local candidates-send ‘em money, make phone calls, knock on doors, get your friends and family out to vote, whatever you can do. After that, when the fight moves to the state legislature that will, hopefully, still be in Democratic hands, Democrats and the Governor will need to put a human face on this issue and make Republicans (and potentially turn coat Democrats) sweat before they dare to cast that no vote.
Protecting and expanding Medicaid will, more than anything else, define Governor Beebe’s legacy. I think he realizes that. He’s had time to look around at our surrounding states and see the public policy disasters that the Republican approach to governing has created and he, with a Democratic legislature, has wisely steered our state away from that course. The big fight though is looming and the lives of thousands of Arkansans are literally hanging in the balance. If you ever needed a reason to vote straight Democrat all the way down the ticket, then this is it.