HHS Gives Arkansas Obamacare a Boatload of “Free” Money

The news about Arkansas Obamacare should not surprise us since falsehoods at every level were involved in selling the Affordable Care Act. What is one more in that long list?

"obamacare

obamacare death starAccording to the Daily Caller, “Federal Report Slams Obama Admin For Underestimating Cost Of Arkansas Medicaid Expansion.”

The General Accountability Office report castigated the Department of Health and Human Services for bucking its own rules of ensuring that Arkansas’s version of a Medicaid expansion doesn’t cost more than the traditional Obamacare Medicaid expansion would.

HHS approved an Arkansas proposal to use federal Medicaid funding to pay premiums for Medicaid customers to purchase private coverage through the state’s Obamacare exchange. The program allows those with income up to 133 percent of the federal poverty line to use the extra Medicaid funding to purchase their own coverage.

The modified Medicaid expansion program must be budget-neutral, according to HHS rules, but the department overlooked its requirements and approved a whopping $4 billion budget for the three-year program — over $778 million higher than the traditional Medicaid expansion would have cost for Arkansas, according to the GAO report.

I am not sure what the headline means in writing of HHS “underestimating” the cost. Does that mean they miscalculated? Or that they gave a false estimate?

Likewise, when the story says that the GAO criticized HHS “for bucking its own rules,” is that different than simply breaking its own rules?

“HHS, in effect, waived its cost-effectiveness requirement that providing premium assistance to purchase individual coverage prove comparable to the cost of providing direct coverage under the state’s Medicaid plan, further increasing the risk that the demonstration would not be budget-neutral,” the report charges.

“GAO has had long-standing concerns with HHS’s policy, process, and criteria for reviewing and approving” state waivers for Medicaid expansions with private options, especially due to “the lack of transparency in the basis for approved spending limits.” The federal agency approved Arkansas’ plan “based on hypothetical costs” and didn’t include “any data to support the state’s assumptions.” 

So what are the chances that Arkansas is the only state in the union where this kind of financial leakage is happening with Obamacare? Natutrally, HHS “disputed” the GAO’s findings. If you find HHS to be credible when they make such denials, I don’t think you are acknowledging reality.