Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Beshear in a box on ObamaCare

The Frankfort media is missing the Kentucky ObamaCare defunding story simply because Gov. Beshear is telling them he won't need General Fund dollars in the next biennium to fund the "Affordable Care Act." This is inexcusable, because the federal law requires states opting in to a state-run exchange and Medicaid expansion spend state funds to do so.

Federal funds for the ObamaCare exchange run out completely on December 31, 2014. The temporary 100% federal match on Medicaid expansion only applies to medical expenses of newly eligible Medicaid recipients under the expansion. That means all exchange expenses starting in 2015 and all Medicaid administrative costs associated with the expansion and all medical expenses of previously eligible Medicaid recipients forced into the program by the coverage mandate come from the General Fund already and continue in perpetuity.

Gov. Beshear set this mess up himself, which Kentucky law does not allow him to do. The following language in the Senate's budget (HB 235) moves to strike his actions down:

Subsequent to these Executive Branch actions, no executive order related to the ACA has been codified by the General Assembly, nor has any administrative regulation related to the ACA been approved by a vote of the majority of the members of a legislative committee. Providing that the Governor continues unilateral implementation and operation of the ACA in the Commonwealth, the General Assembly shall limit the ACA's impact on the 2014-2016 State/Executive Branch Budget and future biennial budgets so as not to bind future General Assemblies. Therefore, no provision within this Act shall be deemed, adjudged, or constructed as being a recognition, finding, or admission of the General Assembly's approval of the operation of the ACA in Kentucky.

This language is important because it emphasizes Beshear's attempt to force us into ObamaCare was done without legislative approval. It is not critical this language stays in the final budget because the law is already clear on how Beshear must get legislative approval, but House Democrats won't want to argue to remove it nor can Beshear complain without admitting that he didn't get and doesn't have legislative approval, which he must have. Kentucky is not a dictatorship, but a constitutional republic.

Beshear's dishonesty also presents serious problems for him when the Senate gets more specific in defunding ObamaCare. See the following passage:

The Governor is expressly prohibited from expending any General Fund resources on any expenditure directly or indirectly associated with the Health Benefit Exchange.

Again, he has said he doesn't need any General Fund dollars, so this is no problem, right? Beshear's quandary is that he either admits to lying now in order to demand funding he needs  in nine months or just gets caught later and hopes no one notices. It's already too late for both.

And then there is the Medicaid expansion.

As the only body in the Commonwealth with the constitutional power to make appropriations, the General Assembly recognizes that federal funding for the expansion of Kentucky's Medicaid Program is not recurring in nature; therefore, the intent of the General Assembly is that funds received from the Affordable Care Act, or its successor, shall not be used to permanently expand existing programs, permanently create new programs, or in any way increase the requirements to be placed on the General Fund or Road Fund above the adjusted appropriation level as of June 30, 2014.

The key here is prohibiting expenditures "above the adjusted appropriations level as of June 30, 2014." Again, Beshear must either admit he needs a lot more money quickly after saying he needs none or just wait and hope no one notices him violating Section 230 of the Kentucky Constitution by spending unappropriated funds.

House Democrats will get another chance to weigh in on ObamaCare, but they can't save Beshear. They can only expose him.