Let’s fire back up the long-dormant blog for a little item:
Sometime today there will be a meeting at which I would love to be fly on the wall. The three Republican architects of the private option on Medicaid expansion — Sens. Jonathan Dismang and David Sanders and Rep. John Burris — will have a confab with Gov. Mike Beebe.
Several things surely will come up, but, most prominently, they will discuss that Sanders and Burris don’t want the state Insurance Department to contract with Planned Parenthood to retain a few $12-an-hour employees to advise clients of their health insurance opportunities under Obamacare generally and the private option specifically, beginning in October.
Background: Sanders and Burris have been riding herd on private option implementation. When Insurance Commissioner Jay Bradford showed them a list of service agencies set for contracts for these “navigators,” they objected personally and strategically, fearful that Planned Parenthood’s participation — because of the organization’s role in abortions — would rile up anti-abortion Republican legislators and imperil the private option’s implementation, even its re-ratification in the next legislative session. They asked Bradford to drop Planned Parenthood. He agreed to do so for the time being. But Planned Parenthood came in with a perfectly legitimate application, and is an ideal organization for spreading this word, and the whole thing seeped into the press.
We’re talking about five hourly positions or maybe seven — I’ve heard it both ways — and very modest, inconsequential administrative earnings for Planned Parenthood.
So I wrote a column last Sunday saying, oh, heck, let’s not risk health insurance for hundreds of thousands of poor people over a few of these jobs.
And Planned Parenthood is a great organization that would help clients find newly available health insurance even if it didn’t have five or seven contracted positions.
To me you hold your nose on five or seven positions in the greater interest of health insurance for a quarter-million people.
Getting these Republicans to pass this private option by a three-fourths vote was a miracle. Why screw up a miracle?
So then I got attacked by a liberal blog for being a no-good appeasing creep and a stenographer for evil right-wingers. It’s the principle of the thing, and the issue of what might come next, said the liberal blog.
This liberal blog — I forget its name — even speculates that Planned Parenthood ought to make a federal court case out of not being allowed to pass through a little money for five or seven hourly jobs.
I really don’t know if that’s a legal or political fight Planned Parenthood would need to wage in this state.
So you’ve got Planned Parenthood persisting in its simple, straight-forward application. You have Insurance Commissioner Jay Bradford out here on a limb with no visible support. You have a governor typically detached from his own government.
Until today, maybe. Sanders and Burris made overtures to the governor’s office for a confab, and Beebe said why don’t you just come on in.
Sometime today, I’m told.
Allow me the wild imagining of what might be said, based on my contention that I often know how this governor thinks.
Beebe might say: All right, dadgummit. You guys can have this little skirmish. I’ll tell Bradford to round-file the Planned Parenthood contract. We don’t need this fight. But in exchange I want y’all to shut the heck up. I don’t want to open up the paper every day and see where y’all are nitpicking a Health Department grant to Planned Parenthood or hassling John Selig on some implementation detail at Human Services. Stand down, boys, because the fact is that you’ve gotten a little big for your britches. Y’all did good work passing the private option. But I’m the blankety-blank governor around here for a few months, anyway. If y’all want to destroy this thing, just keep being full of yourselves and I’ll let you destroy it. Now get our of here before I really get mad.
Or maybe that’s just what I’d say.