Jonesboro Sun, July 25, 2013 Front Page  Excerpts

Petition drive to repeal Medicaid expansion begins

Below picture: Debbie Pelley, a Jonesboro resident and conservative activist, on Wednesday discusses Arkansas’ Medicaid expansion with David Kern of Jonesboro outside the city’s Office of Motor Vehicles. Pelley is assisting in a statewide petition drive to gather enough signatures to place a referendum on the November 2014 ballot to repeal Medicaid expansion in the state. Lawmakers approved the expansion in bipartisan legislation during the 89th General Assembly.

Waylon Harris | The Sun

By Waylon Harris, Sun Staff Writer,

JONESBORO — Jonesboro resident and conservative activist Debbie Pelley won’t stop until she gets more than enough signatures from Craighead County voters to assist in a statewide effort to place a referendum on the 2014 election ballot to repeal Medicaid expansion in Arkansas.


The so-called “private option,” or the Health Care Independence Act of 2013, passed by legislators in the 89th General Assembly, authorized the state Department of Human Services to subsidize health insurance premiums for people who would qualify for Medicaid.


Those eligible are adults between the ages of 19 and 65 who earn 138 percent or less of the federal poverty level, which is about $15,414 for a single individual or $30,809 for a family of four.


It’s estimated that expansion would increase the state Medicaid roster by about 250,000 Arkansans.


Pelley, who was stationed Wednesday outside the Jonesboro Office of Motor Vehicles on Southwest Drive approached every person entering the building and requested they sign the petition to give Arkansas voters a chance in 2014 to decide whether the state should implement Medicaid expansion in Arkansas, which is a component of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare.


Pelley will be in the state agency parking lot from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. most days collecting signatures through early August. She said she needs about 650 signatures from Craighead County voters, but she plans to seek many more.


“When we reach the 650 signatures, we’re not packing up and going home,” Pelley said.


As of 11 a.m. Wednesday, she said she had received about 450 signatures.


 Overall, about 46,000 signatures from at least 15 counties verified by the Secretary of State’s office are required for the referendum to appear on the November 2014 ballot.


“It’s the biggest government expansion in Arkansas history,” Pelley said. "...the Arkansas Constitution allows us, if we get enough signatures, to put it on the ballot and reverse it.”


nder the federal health-care law, the federal government would pay the full cost of expansion when it begins next year. After three years, states gradually will increase contributions until states’ shares top out at 10 percent in 2021.

Department of Human Services officials have estimated the net cost to the state would reach about $4 million annually in 2021.

But Republican state Rep. Joe Farrer of Cabot recently said in a guest column posted on The Arkansas Project website that he estimated the 10-year cost of the program to cost the state between $1.9 billion and $9.1 billion, a number he determined based on state and insurance specialist estimates, he said.

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Posted July 25, 2013 by Women Action Group