Excerpts from Articles Relating to Medicaid Expansion in Special Election To Fill Seat Vacated by Bookout:
in Chronological order
See red font for most important quotes.
Bono Republican, others considering state Senate race August 22, 2013
Jonesboro sun, http://www.jonesborosun.com/news/news.php?ID=43992
By Michael Wilkey, Sun Staff Writer, email@example.com
JONESBORO — The resignation Tuesday of former state Sen. Paul Bookout, D-Jonesboro...created an open seat in the 35-member state Senate...
By Wednesday afternoon, John Cooper said he was taking a look at the race...
Cooper, who announced last month he would be running for the District 59 seat again in 2014, said he would likely make a decision by Friday.
Former state Rep. Jon Hubbard, R-Jonesboro, said he is inclined not to run...
David Ray, a spokesman for the Arkansas Republican Party, declined to comment on specific candidates for the seat. ..
Tolbert: Three Republicans File For Senate, Shots Begin Immediately
Sept. 4, 2013 By Jason Tolbert
John Cooper’s campaign threw off the gloves in his announcement today taking aim at Chad Niell. According to the press release, Niell gave $2,000 to Democrat Dustin McDaniel for Governor and $500 to Democrat State Representative Harold Copenhaver in 2012.
“As I officially begin my campaign for State Senate today, I’m making a commitment to voters that I will fight for ethics reform and do all I can to clean up our state’s political process,” said Cooper. “It bothers me that some candidates have played both sides of the aisle in the past and now expect to buy their way into being the Republican nominee...
“If a candidate is so ungrounded they desire to buy friends and influence, how can we depend on them to vote for us on important issues? Will their pocketbook and friends be more important to them than constituents? My principles are not for sale, and I will never waver from my conservative views and values,” he said....
Niell’s other primary opponent Dan Sullivan also offered some support saying he did not see Niell’s contributions as an issue.
“People involved in business are going to have to deal with both Democrats and Republicans everyday. It seems like this is probably very common,” said Sullivan.
But if these early shots are any indication, this race could heat up quickly and might be a preview for the upcoming May primaries.
One potential topic that will likely be debated then and now involves the private option/Medicaid expansion passed by the legislature last spring. It takes 27 votes in the Senate (75% of both chambers) to continue to fund the program with will be up for another vote in the upcoming fiscal session in Febraruy. Last spring, it passed with only 28 votes, one of whom was Sen. Bookout so the race could narrow the margin.
When I spoke with Cooper, he was quick and to the point.
“I am opposed to the ‘private option’ and funding for it,” said Cooper.
Sullivan, who works in the health care industry, had a longer answer. He was clear that he opposes the Affordable Care Act passed by Congress, but thinks the state should be careful in its response.
“The people in this district want someone who will do everything they can to lessen the negative impacts of this legislation. I oppose the federal law and will be watching as it begins to go into effect in October,” said Sullivan who commented that new information – most of it bad – appears to be coming out about the new law. He said this will affect whether he would vote to fund the Arkansas private option plan during the fiscal session.
3 in GOP seek Bookout’s seat September 5, 2013
One candidate’s contributions to Democrats already at issue
By Michael Wickline
Cooper said he considers himself to be more conservative than Niell and Sullivan.
He pointed out that he opposes legislation enacted by the Republican-controlled Legislature earlier this year to authorize the use of federal Medicaid dollars to purchase private health insurance for about 250,000 uninsured Arkansans.
Niell and Sullivan said they need more information on the so-called private option before they take a stance on it.
Sullivan cited his experience in the state Capitol and his community involvement, saying it distinguished him from his Republican foes.
He is president of the Arkansas Behavioral Health Care Provider Association and was Ascent’s vice president of development and legislative affairs before becoming its chief executive officer.
Field of seven vying for seat in District 21 Sept 9, 2013
By Michael Wickline 09/09/2013
Sullivan, another Republican who has contributed to Democrats, including Beebe, said, “that’s the way we do business” contributing to politicians from both parties who share common interests.
Sullivan is chief executive officer of Ascent Children’s Health Services.
A review of Cooper, Niell and Sullivan’s voting records show they each voted in at least one Democratic primary during the past decade and a half. [They had to go back to 1998 (15 years to find where Cooper had voted in a Democratic primary)
Cooper, a retired AT&T manager, voted in the 1998 Democratic primary in Craighead County, according to the secretary of state’s office records.
Cooper said the GOP was still in its infancy in Jonesboro in 1998, so he participated where his vote could make the biggest difference.
“Fortunately, the Republican Party has grown tremendously over the years and Craighead County has helped lead to many GOP gains,” he said.
Niell and Sullivan each voted in the Democratic primary in Craighead County last year and Sullivan voted in the Democratic primary in Baxter County in 1996, according to the secretary of state’s office records....
Sullivan initially said Friday that he didn’t recall voting in Democratic primaries in Baxter and Craighead counties.
Shortly thereafter, Sullivan called back the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and explained that he voted for Democratic presidential candidate John Wolfe, an attorney from Tennessee, in last year’s Democratic primary as a “protest vote” against Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.
In May 2012, Wolfe won more than 40 percent of the vote in Arkansas.
Sullivan said he doesn’t recall voting in the 1996 Democratic primary in Baxter County...
Earlier this year, Paul Bookout voted for legislation that narrowly cleared the three-quarters vote required for the Republican-controlled Legislature to authorize the use of federal Medicaid dollars to purchase private health insurance for an estimated 250,000 uninsured Arkansans through health insurance exchanges.
Kidd, Roebuck and Rockwell said they support the so-called “private option,” while Baker said he doesn’t know enough about it “not to support it or to support it at this time.” [But Baker said in the debate sponsored by the Sun that he would support it.]
Cooper said he opposes the private option because “I believe it’s implementation of Obamacare and that’s not good for this state.”
Niell said he wants to read the measure before taking a stand on it, adding, “As a small-business owner and strong fiscal conservative I will not vote for anything that I believe will raise taxes, hurt our economy or expand our state government.” [Niell later emphatically said he opposed the Medicaid Expansion bill.]
Sullivan said he’s neither a proponent or opponent of the private option.
“We can’t start making decisions based on what we don’t know and there are a lot of things that we don’t know yet,” he said.
Dan Sullivan, Unfiltered
http://www.thearkansasproject.com/dan-sullivan-unfiltered/ Sept 9, 2013September 9, 2013
NH: “Last question: you mentioned health care several times. I know the ‘private option’ is a big question for a lot of candidates out there and a lot of voters. Where do you stand on the ‘private option’ at this point?”
DS: “That’s done. And I’m not going to look backwards. I think I’ve found a lot of questions: ‘Would you have voted for it? Would you have voted against it?’ I’m going to look forwards.
GOP Senate candidates answer Sun's questions
By Michael Wilkey, Sun Staff Writer, firstname.lastname@example.org October 4, 2013
All three candidates also expressed their misgivings on the new Arkansas Medicaid Expansion law.
I am opposed to it and have always been opposed to it,” Cooper said. “It is bad for the state and is the biggest expansion (of government) in our state’s history.”
Niell said he is also opposed to the law.
It would put 350,000 people on Medicaid (in Arkansas) with no additional doctor to care for them,” Niell said, saying the law would have an impact on medical service.
Sullivan said the law, approved earlier this year by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Mike Beebe, is now the law in the state.
“It is the law and I support following the law and doing what the law says,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan said the state Legislature has the ability to end, stop or modify the law.
“It appears from the last several days that the federal government may not be able to fulfill its obligations to Arkansas, agreed to in the private option,” Sullivan said.
However, Sullivan said he believes if the private option is done away with, another program would likely have to take its place to help the people who have already signed up for the program.
District 21 primaries draw 7 candidates - 3 in GOP predict close race, runoff - Oct 6, 2013
By Michael Wickline
Cooper said he’s the “conservative candidate” in the field and has been active in conservative causes longer than either Niell or Sullivan.
He said he was the first of the three Republican candidates to signal his opposition to legislation that authorizes the use of federal Medicaid dollars to purchase private health insurance through health-care exchanges for an estimated 250,000 uninsured Arkansans.
The three candidates indicated on a candidate questionnaire for the conservative group Family Council that they are against the “private option” legislation.
“I am not in favor of funding the private option,” Cooper said. “It is going to be an economic disaster, and we can’t afford it.
“I don’t believe it is going to amount to kicking people off [health-insurance coverage]. If that is the case, the alternative is worse. I chose the less painful of the two directions,” he explained.
Niell said he’s “totally against the private option” because it appears like it will stifle competition and lead to a rationing of health care.
“I will not vote to fund it. You can bank on it,” Niell said. “I don’t want to kick anybody off [health insurance] if they need it. … If the state would reduce regulations on health insurance, people could afford health insurance. Regulations and red tape caused this problem. That’s what I am against.”
Sullivan said Friday night that he would call the Family Council this week to clarify that he considers the private option law a poor law, but he is not against following it as a law.
He said he would have to see “some viable options before I would be ready to kill the [private option] program or public funding for the program.
“I haven’t heard what those options are. There may be some,” he said.
Sullivan is president of the Arkansas Behavioral Health Providers Association. He said he would step down from the post if he’s elected to the Legislature.
Article on hospitals and other related health businesses praising Medicaid expansion before Private Option passed : "Economic and Employment Effects [Benefits] of Expanding Medicaid in Arkansas." February 2013 (The more you spend the more you save is the theme because you increase number of jobs.)
Posted by Women Action Group, October 18, 2013