In solidly red Arkansas, with Republicans now controlling both houses of the state legislature and the governor’s office, one would expect robust opposition to federal overreach, particularly Obamacare.
But Arkansas Republicans were unable to come together in opposition to the Affordable Care Act during the 2015 legislative session. To make matters even worse, many Arkansas GOP legislators who specifically campaigned on repealing Obamacare reportedly twisted arms behind the scenes to ensure the health care law remained in effect.
“This not the conservative way,” said Sen. Linda Collins-Smith. “What happened with Obamacare this year is the worst thing imaginable for the Republican Party. Every true conservative’s hands are being tied. The will of the people is not being heard. It’s very frustrating.”
Sen. Collins-Smith was ecstatic about the election results in Nov. 2014. She saw the tremendous Republican electoral gains as a mandate and catalyst for a long overdue rebuking of unconstitutional federal policies like Obamacare. She introduced Senate Bill 144 (SB144) to immediately terminate Medicaid expansion in the state. Dubbed the ‘Private Option’ in Arkansas, the expansion of Medicaid is a key provision of Obamacare. Without the states opting to expand Medicaid, it is quite possible that the entire program would collapse under its own eight.
Considering how much Arkansans revile Obamacare, and the clear mandate set the previous year, Sen. Collins-Smith expected her measure would breeze through the legislature and be signed into law without much resistance. However, as the session progressed, it became apparent that Republican legislative leaders…