The Other Upset: Arkansas Obamacaid Architect Loses State Senate Primary

posted at 7:21 pm on June 16, 2014 by Patrick Ishmael

The focus of most political observers has been on the primary elections in Virginia last week, and for good reason. But a timezone away, there was another important primary taking place in Arkansas. There, one of the Republican architects of the state’s “private option” Medicaid expansion proposal, state Rep. John Burris, was vying for a state Senate seat that was also being contested by newcomer Scott Flippo. Like Virginia, candidate spending was lopsided with the presumed favorite Burris heavily outspending the challenger. But in the end, the race appears to have hinged on one thing above all else: Burris’ Obamacaid stance.

Burris — one of the architects of the expansion program — was proud of his support for the “PO,” trying to make the case here in Mountain Home that, without it, Baxter Regional Hospital would be in serious financial jeopardy. Burris recently told me he never shied away from his support for the Obamacare expansion (although he did tell voters on one voter’s guide that he opposed the program).

On the Flippo side, opposition to the Obamacare expansion was a central component of the campaign from the very beginning. Flippo also drew voters’ attention to Burris’s support of Common Core and his vote to extend term limits, but ultimately, the Obamacare expansion — and Obamacare in general — was the most prominent issue in the race.

The result?

Scott Flippo defeated state Rep. John Burris in Tuesday’s GOP runoff for state Senate District 17. Burris is a former House Republican leader. There’s no Democrat running for the seat in the November election.

Flippo had cast the race as a referendum on Arkansas’ private option plan to use federal Medicaid funds to purchase private insurance for the poor. Burris helped craft the plan and urged House members to approve it as an alternative to expanding Medicaid under the federal health law.

Flippo had the backing of Republican lawmakers who are vowing to reject funding for the program next year.

Arkansas has long been cast as a red state model for implementing Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, but it seems the political sands are shifting there as the practical and fiscal realities of the “private option” come into sharper focus.

Even in a state like Missouri where Obamacare has not yet been implemented by the legislature, the political consequences of a Republican trying to implement Obamacare are stark. (emphasis mine)

But as [Republican state Rep. Noel] Torpey outlined it Friday, the politics of Medicaid in Missouri are straightforward. Three years ago legislators voted on health exchanges, also part of Obamacare and the means by which millions of Americans since have bought health insurance.

In the Missouri House, four representatives who voted for that subsequently lost races for the Senate.

“They lost on that vote and that vote alone,” Torpey said.

Legislators considering upcoming elections haven’t forgotten the risks of being portrayed as supporting the ACA.

“And it’s effective in campaigns, unfortunately,” Torpey said.

Well, duh. It’s effective in campaigns because folks don’t want the Obamacare exchanges or the Obamacaid expansion, despite how hard some elected officials are pushing for it. Politicians can rebrand Obamacaid as a “Medicaid transformation” or an “alternative” or strap Medicaid expansion spending bombs to substantive Medicaid reforms and say the reforms won’t come without Obamacare, but that doesn’t change the fact that the issue is political poison in a Republican primary, whether state legislators ultimately pass it or not.

Which is why last week’s Arkansas primary is so important. Even in a political environment where one would think local Republicans could get away with an Obamacare vote, it turns out it isn’t that easy. Burris found that out the hard way. Who’s next?

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That pic is hilarious…

LIV see what their Obama vote has done for them…

Electrongod on June 16, 2014 at 7:29 PM

I can hear the movement of lock step RINO’S forming their clueless circular firing squads.

vnvet on June 16, 2014 at 7:32 PM

Every politician that supports the ACA deserves to go down in defeat.

RWRFAN on June 16, 2014 at 7:35 PM

I alternate between being excited about incumbents losing and worried that they still don’t seem to take the hint….

ChrisL on June 16, 2014 at 7:37 PM

Can’t be. I was just reading that Paul Krugman said Obamacare was a big success. How could he be wrong?

Wait, I think I found the problem →→→→↑

There Goes the Neighborhood on June 16, 2014 at 7:37 PM

It’s like politicians can’t help themselves… YES, Medicaid Expansion brings SOME extra Federal money, not even 100% coverage, IIRC…. BUT ONLY FOR 3 YEARS! THEN, your state is on the hook, increasingly & look at TennCare. A coalition of activist groups used the TN courts to expand the coverage & options of TennCare to it was simply unaffordable! That would NEVER happen in your state! No, those new Medicaid recipients & their care will not increase in number or in cost, all the while the Federal will be reducing their support…. WHAT COULD GO WRONG?

Why is this difficult to grasp?

JFKY on June 16, 2014 at 7:41 PM

There Goes the Neighborhood on June 16, 2014 at 7:37 PM

OT – your handle just started a tune in my head to go off!
From the Busboys in honor of your screen name…

mechkiller_k on June 16, 2014 at 7:43 PM

Can’t be. I was just reading that Paul Krugman said Obamacare was a big success. How could he be wrong?

Wait, I think I found the problem →→→→↑

There Goes the Neighborhood on June 16, 2014 at 7:37 PM

Yes he was touting Obamacare a huge success now and well into the future. He did admit that we don’t have any actual numbers to call it a success yet, but, by golly, it is a huge rousing success anyway.

Johnnyreb on June 16, 2014 at 7:45 PM

There Goes the Neighborhood on June 16, 2014 at 7:37 PM

+ 100..:)

Dire Straits on June 16, 2014 at 7:47 PM

Be interesting to know if Mike Huckabee had a dog in this fight.

portlandon on June 16, 2014 at 7:48 PM

DeathCare AND Common Core?

Why not join NAMBLA and make it a dumbazz trifecta.

Bishop on June 16, 2014 at 7:49 PM

Yet this story was buried. I wonder why.

neyney on June 16, 2014 at 7:49 PM

This is one reason that the IRS scandal so far has not been worse, and is unlikely to be pressed all that hard by the GOPe. The Republican Aristocrats are being taken out by those evil upstart Tea Party folks

oscarwilde on June 16, 2014 at 7:50 PM

The hits just keep on a-comin’.

formwiz on June 16, 2014 at 7:51 PM

ALL 3 POINTS!

kcewa on June 16, 2014 at 8:00 PM

Perhaps for those incumbents who voted for Obamacare or Common Core they should get: Seppuku for Dummies.

If you voted for both you will get the extra special bonus edition with the lovely Katana.

ajacksonian on June 16, 2014 at 8:08 PM

Sounds like ObamaCare, like his foreign policy, is coming home to roost!

GarandFan on June 16, 2014 at 8:59 PM

There Goes the Neighborhood on June 16, 2014 at 7:37 PM

OT – your handle just started a tune in my head to go off!
From the Busboys in honor of your screen name…

mechkiller_k on June 16, 2014 at 7:43 PM

“Minimum Wage” is a MASTERPIECE ! Bus Boys still haven’t got their due…..

As long as we’re dusting off some classics, could someone with more internetty type skills than myself please collect some of O’s best lies (starting with “if you like your healthcare…” to this:

NorthCountry on June 16, 2014 at 9:09 PM

Let. Them. Burn.

OccamsRazor on June 16, 2014 at 9:26 PM

Burris practically held the state legislature “hostage” until he got the vote he wanted. Glad to see that Flippo beat him.

brdchris1 on June 16, 2014 at 9:38 PM

The RINO “big tent” collapses on them.

Feedie on June 17, 2014 at 3:47 AM

The focus of most political observers has been on the primary elections in Virginia last week…

Yeah, apparently that would include all of you hacks at HA too.

earlgrey on June 17, 2014 at 10:08 AM

The RINO “big tent” collapses on them.

Feedie on June 17, 2014 at 3:47 AM

heh

The phase out of Obamacare medicaid subsidies was intentionally postponed until this Presidency is over. The handlers calculated public pressure would force the next President to renew the subsidies

With RINO leadership in Congress, that could happen

Obamacare is medicaid on steroids

A non RINO Congress could give the it back to the States. Deep six the federal medical databases, the appointed federal death panels, the federal control over what you may receive in an policy. The Navigators and other leeches A.K.A. permanent DEM voters could go on unemployment since by then the illegals will have all remaining jobs

Give any state that wants it a copy of the crappy code, free.

California could dig its own hole as deep as it desires, and not take me with it

entagor on June 17, 2014 at 10:32 AM

Burris — one of the architects of the expansion program — was proud of his support for the “PO,”

Well he definitely succeeded in getting a lot of people PO-ed.

Good for the voters for making him feel their pain.

s1im on June 17, 2014 at 4:59 PM