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'The Empty Promises Of Arkansas's Medicaid Private Option'

Updated: Apr 13

If you want to understand the private option, you’ve got to read the newest paper from the Foundation for Government Accountability. Earlier this week, Jonathan Ingram published The Empty Promises of Arkansas’s Private Option.” It’s absolutely a must-read for anyone who’s following the ‘private’ option debate. Ingram’s paper is far from a typical, dry think-tank product. Instead, it’s a historical exploration of the promises that were made by private-option advocates in the Arkansas legislature. The paper explores eight promises these legislators made to pass the program into law, reproducing quotes from floor speeches, Facebook, Twitter, and news articles. Each section contains direct quotes from private-option advocates: Ingram’s report shows that each one of these promises was largely worthless. Did private-option legislators understand that they were promising what they couldn’t deliver? Were they lying? Were they ill-informed? Were they just confused? Ingram is careful to avoid making accusations about such matters, but he demonstrates that the private option was – with respect to its advocates in the legislature – almost completely free of truth in advertising. This very readable paper has a pleasantly gossipy quality (that’s a compliment): it is designed to show the gap between what state legislators promised and what they delivered, and it contains what I would call some highly incriminating quotes from private-option legislators. Ingram’s paper illuminates something that anyone involved in politics can’t afford to forget: just because elected officials share your party label, you can’t just assume that they’ll share your values. Furthermore, you can’t automatically rely on public officials, once elected, to work for the values they campaigned on. Yesterday, Ingram and House Republican Leader Bruce Westerman co-hosted a phone conference call to discuss the private option and the paper that FGA published. Legislators from more than 20 states joined in on the call. You may have missed this conference call. But you shouldn’t miss the opportunity to read this paper.

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