Here are Facts on the Insurance Department Budget:
It contains 1 million dollars to start implementation of the Federal Healthcare Exchange (aka Obamacare)
While the budget was in the Joint Budget committee, Senator Jason Rapert tried to have the million dollars stripped out and when that didn't happen tried to put an amendment in so it couldn't be spent. The amendment was voted down.
We have twice made motions on the House floor so that the money could be stripped out. We were blocked both times by the Democrats.
HB2138, the bill that would give the power to actually implement does contain a clause that would keep money from being spent until either Supreme Court rules it constitutional OR 11/15/11.
HOWEVER there is this clause at the end:
(c) Nothing in subsection (b) shall be construed to limit or prevent the commissioner from either spending any portion of the federal grant monies already procured by the State Insurance Department, or attempting to procure additional federal grants prior to the dates specified in subsection (b).
This is there way of being able to start spending money to implement Obamacare on JULY 1st, 2011 or even sooner.
None of us want the Department to go unfunded, but unfortunately it contains taxpayer money that would implement the healthcare bill that so many Arkansans oppose. The Democrats continue to adamantly oppose our efforts to have it taken out.
I am disappointed that Governor Beebe and House Democrats have taken this course of action and think implementing Obamacare is more important then funding the Department of Insurance.
As long as the money is still in there, I will continue to vote against it and encourage my colleagues to do the same.