No, Arkansas, Medicaid Is Not an “Entitlement.” It’s a Giant WalMart Subsidy

Arkansas, the home state of WalMart, just passed a law that will require “individuals” (by which it appears to mean biological humans) registering for Medicaid under ObamaCare’s expanded coverage to sign a document acknowledging that Medicaid is not an “entitlement.”

The Arkansas state legislature has officially passed legislation to use Medicaid expansion dollars to buy private insurance for some 250,000 state residents.

The bill used to do so contains one of the more unusual provisions I’ve ever seen in  health-care legislation. It requires those enrolling in the Medicaid expansion to acknowledge that they’re not enrolling in an entitlement program. The relevant section:

(i) An eligible individual enrolled in the program shall affirmatively acknowledge that:
(1) The program is not a perpetual federal or state right or a guaranteed entitlement;
(2) The program is subject to cancellation upon appropriate notice; and
(3) The program is not an entitlement program.

As a reminder, WalMart was involved in the design and passage of ObamaCare. The way in which Medicaid got expanded — in which the only way an employer can fulfill its obligation to provide health insurance for employees free of cost is to ensure they all make less then the 138% of federal poverty level that would qualify them for expanded coverage.

It has been clear from the start that WalMart had every intention of using that loophole to get free coverage for a significant portion of its 1.4 million American employees. And why not? It was a strategy WalMart was already using.

Since then, WalMart has been — as I predicted — made the moves necessary to ensure its workers are poor enough to get that freebie, largely by shifting more of them to part time work.

To a significant extent, this built-in reward for employers that keep their employees in poverty was all designed with WalMart — which was on Obama’s advisory committee — in mind. The Medicaid expansion, which, if you ignore the way it incents companies to keep employees at poverty wages, is an really important benefit of ObamaCare, is also a huge federal subsidy for Arkansas’ largest company.

So, no. Medicaid, especially in Arkansas, is not an “entitlement.” For legal individuals like WalMart, its actually a giant form of corporate welfare.

Maybe WalMart should also have to sign a form when its employees register, certifying that it knows it’s the biggest welfare queen ever created?

8 replies
  1. For The Turnstiles says:

    O/T but Important

    Oppose CISPA if you value any privacy in our digital world

    Cyber-security is a real problem, but Congress’ latest Cispa bill tries to solve it by attacking the freedom of the internet

    This bill is easily the worst attack on the open internet since the infamous Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), an online censorship bill that was killed in the wake of widespread opposition early last year.


    House passes cybersecurity bill as privacy concerns linger

    The House of Representatives passed legislation on Thursday designed to help companies and the government share information on cyber threats, though concerns linger about the amount of protection the bill offers for private information.

    This is the second go-around for the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) after it passed the House last year but stalled in the Senate after President Barack Obama threatened to veto it over privacy concerns.

    The bill drew support from House Democrats, passing on a bipartisan vote of 288-127, although the White House repeated its veto threat on Tuesday if further civil liberties protections are not added.

    Some lawmakers and privacy activists worry that the legislation would allow the government to monitor citizens’ private information and companies to misuse it.

  2. Bitter Angry Drunk says:

    @Lake Effect Snow: Pretty remarkable that made it into Stevie Flat Tax’s magazine.

    I’ve refused to set foot in Wal-Mart for years, but I don’t really like Costco either. Or is that Shopko?

  3. dakine01 says:

    WalMart gets us in all directions. They use tax breaks and subsidies when they are building new stores then allow tax payers to subsidize the employees. Privatize the profits, socialize the losses. Great bidness plan if you can get it.

  4. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Wal-Mart is by far the biggest welfare queen on the planet. Its personnel policies are significant reasons why this is so; its tax policies just as egregiously so. The latter are as fundamental to its business planning as its daily cash flow analysis. It, along with other retailers such as Cabela’s, extort tax concessions from local and state governments when siting stores, which amount to more than the cost of land acquisition and store construction. Nice work if you can get it.

  5. Carolinian says:

    Walmart and Costco are not comparable. Costco is a club that largely caters to more affluent shoppers. It is also a warehouse store that is, if anything, even more self-service than Walmart and therefore needs less labor for the amount of goods sold.

    Please provide an example of another discount department store chain–K-mart, Target, etc–that provides full health insurance for its employees. Then you may have a valid point.

    Of course perhaps you feel this discount business model should not exist at all, but those poor people you are concerned about may not agree with you.

    The truth is that it is unrealistic to expect companies that have many low wage, high turnover employees, companies like Walmart, to subsidize the crazy costs of our disfunctional health care system. That is really society’s problem and liberals just use Walmart as an scapegoat rather than admitting their own failures to stand up to the rightwing on universal health care.

    If Walmart did treat their employees better, give them health insurance and, of course, raise their prices they would quickly lose business to competing low price competitors such as Dollar General, Aldi groceries, even regular grocery chains (not many unions there either). Indeed the real reason they are struggling or at least flat in this economy is that the people who shop at Walmart are struggling and the people who shop at Costco are not, or at least not as much.

    If liberals really want to help the people who both shop and work at Walmart they could start by giving more than lip service to raising the minimum wage. The sectors where these sorts of workers are employed–discount stores, fast food–are all highly competitive. Only government action to raise their wages across the board will eliminate the competitive factor that causes companies such as Walmart to be so chintzy.

Comments are closed.