The Delta Grassroots Caucus (DGC) is a broad coalition of grassroots leaders in the eight-state Delta region. DGC is also a founding partner of the Economic Equality Caucus,
which advocates for economic equality across the USA.

Delta Caucus Endorses Medicaid Expansion Across the Delta, April 2, 2013

Posted on April 02, 2013 at 01:45 PM

The Delta Caucus endorses the innovative, bipartisan approach to Medicaid expansion supported by Gov. Mike Beebe of Arkansas and many legislators of both parties in Arkansas as an excellent proposal that could be a model for other states across the Delta and the country.

“Earlier concerns that some of the poorest rural Delta counties might be left out of the state’s health insurance exchange have been laid to rest, and the great majority of the Delta Caucus partners support the leadership of Gov. Beebe and a bipartisan group of legislators,” Caucus director Lee Powell said.

Sen. Robert Thompson of Paragould said: “I am encouraged by the hard work of Democrats and Republicans in the Arkansas legislature on efforts to support rural health care and provide medical coverage to low-income Arkansans. I believe we should arrive at a bipartisan solution and develop a health-insurance plan that has broad support. Gov. Mike Beebe and the leadership of both the state House and the Senate appear committed to reaching these goals this year.”

Rep. Mark McElroy of Tillar in southeast Arkansas said “It’s essential not only for the Delta but for all Arkansas to expand Medicaid to 250,000 people. For the Delta, we have so many needy people that it would be especially helpful for our region.”

The Delta Grassroots Caucus May 2-3 Delta conference to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Clinton administration’s bipartisan Delta Regional Initiative will address Medicaid expansion and other key regional issues like job creation, renewable energy, energy efficiency, the farm bill, hunger and nutrition, transportation, broadband expansion, and many other regional issues.

Registration, group hotel and schedule information are below in this newsletter after the Medicaid expansion statement.

Speakers include US Sen. John Boozman, US Sen. Mark Pryor, US Rep. Tom Cotton, former US Rep. Mike Ross, former US Rep. and gubernatorial candidate Asa Hutchinson, gubernatorial candidate Curtis Coleman, Delta Regional Authority Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill, Alternate Federal Co-Chairman Mike Marshall, President Ivye Allen of the Foundation for the Mid-South, a Wal-Mart executive, CEO Bill Bynum of the Hope Enterprise Corp., George Miles of Delta LISC, representatives of Fed Ex Express in Memphis, Rex Nelson, president of Arkansas Independent Colleges and Universities, Heifer International, Southern Bancorp, Blytheville-Gosnell Regional Airport Authority, and other grassroots leaders from all eight Delta states.

Gov. Beebe has spoken at every one of the Clinton Library events and he is invited this year. President Bill Clinton usually gives superb live presentations by audio feed, and for the first time he is invited to speak in person.

US Rep. Rick Crawford and gubernatorial candidate Bill Halter are invited.

Rep. McElroy said “After reading recent reports that Medicaid expansion will be positive for the state budget, the statement from Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield that all counties will be covered, the positive reports from the Arkansas Department of Human Services and other good assessments, I am confident that rural, economically distressed counties like Chicot and Desha that I represent and others like them across the Delta will be covered, so I am 100% supportive.”

McElroy, a Democrat, added that the plan is bipartisan and has support from Republican House Speaker Davy Carter, Republican Senate President Pro Tempore Michael Lamoreux, as well as Gov. Beebe and Democratic leaders. “We have impressive bipartisan support and we should pass this plan as soon as possible,” McElroy said.

Rep. Reginald Murdock (D-Marianna) said “We support this because it’s good for Arkansas as a whole, it’s good for business, and it’s good for all the counties of our state including the rural ones. There is no issue of the plan not covering rural counties, and all of them will have access.”

Mayor Larry Bryant of Forrest City said: “It should be a no-brainer to expand Medicaid in Arkansas with all the poor people we have.” Bryant said that if Medicaid expansion does not pass it would be a case where “politics has gotten in the way of what’s best for the state. Squeezing pennies today will cost us more in the future.”

Kevin Smith, former state senator and aide to former US Sen. Dale Bumpers and then Gov. Bill Clinton, now a businessman in Helena-West Helena in Phillips County, Arkansas, said: “It’s highly important for our people in Phillips County and the Delta in general to pass Medicaid expansion. I salute the legislature and Gov. Beebe for being able to come together in one of the smartest approaches in the country.”

Other states are looking at the Arkansas plan with great interest. For example, Dr. Martha Ellen Black, executive director of the Susanna Wesley Family Center in southeast Missouri said: “Many of us in Missouri who are trying to come up with a compromise proposal to expand Medicaid in our state are looking with great interest at the private option that Gov. Beebe and the legislature are working on in Arkansas. We are hoping Gov. Jay Nixon (D-Mo) can work with legislators of both parties in our state like Gov. Beebe and the legislature appear to be doing in Arkansas.”

Arkansas’ plan to provide government-funded private health insurance to 250,000 low-income Arkansans through the Medicaid program is informally referred to as “the private option.” US Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius gave oral approval in late February for the federal government to pay premiums for private insurance companies to provid coverage to about 250,000 of the state’s poorest residents. A recent memorandum from HHS stated that Arkansas has initiated discussions about possible premium assistance.

An executive of Arkansas’ largest insurance company said the poorest rural counties will not be left without coverage. Cal Kellogg, senior vice president and chief strategy officer for Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield, has said that all areas of the state should be covered by the state’s health insurance exchange.

Medicaid would pay full premiums for the expansion group, and people earning slightly more than that group would be heavily subsidized by the federal government. Those payments would make poor areas looked upon favorably to carriers that otherwise might have have avoided them due to concerns of having unpaid premiums and bills.

The Arkansas Chamber of Commerce/Associated Industries of Arkansas president said that his organization supported the Arkansas Medicaid expansion plan, saying that by increasing enrollment in the private insurance market and encouraging competition in the health insurance market, more Arkansans would get health care coverage and eventually costs would be lowered for those services.

In July, 2012, the US Supreme Court struck down a provision o the 2010 federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and allowed states to choose whether to extend Medicaid access to people making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, or $15,145 annually for an indivdual. The Act calls for states to set up private insurance marketplaces called exchanges where people can pick their own plan.


Please make out the $125 check for one person or $75 check each if you can get together a group to “Delta Caucus” and mail to:

Delta Caucus

5030 Purslane Place

Waldorf, MD 20601

Registration fees go up to $150 starting on April 18. It creates logistical problems for the conference if the registration fees come in right before or at the time of the conference.

The group hotel deadline to get the reduced group rate is also April 17. Please call the Comfort Inn & Suites at 501-687-7700 and say you are with the Delta Caucus to get the group rate for May 2 and 3. Many people just stay on the evening of May 2, check out the next morning and store their luggage at the hotel and pick it up after the conference ends on Friday afternoon, May 3.

Our funding comes from either sponsorships or registrations. Thanks a million to lead sponsor Fed Ex Express, major co-sponsors Heifer International, National Housing Assistance Council, City of Sikeston, Missouri and other southeast Missouri grassroots partners, Blytheville-Gosnell Regional Airport Authority, Mississippi County AR Economic Opportunity Commission, Susanna Wesley Family Learning Center in southeast Missouri and other partners. We will provide a complete list of sponsors when they are received.

Registration fees are $125 for each attendee. However, if people who are invited can organize a group of five people or more who are committed to advocating for the region’s community and economic development, we will give a group discount down to $75. It has to be up to each group or individual invited to organize the group of five attendees or more.


OPENING SESSION: Thursday evening, May 2, 2013, 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Clinton School of Public Service.

CLINTON LIBRARY SESSION: Friday, May 3, 2013, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Great Hall of the Clinton Library.

This is bipartisan and people of all political persuasions are welcome.

Mike Ross and Sen. John Boozman are scheduled for the luncheon speakers at noon on Friday, May 3 at the Clinton Library Great Hall. Sen. Mark Pryor speaks at 10 a.m. on Friday.

President Clinton and Gov. Beebe usually speak at the Friday Clinton Library session.

DRA Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill will speak either on the late morning or the luncheon on Friday, May 3.

Alternate Federal Co-Chairman Mike Marshall of Sikeston, Missouri is confirmed for the May 2 Thursday evening session.

James “Skip” Rutherford, Dean of the Clinton School of Public always does a great job of hosting the opening session.

At the opening we also plan to have former Congressman Asa Hutchinson, a gubernatorial candidate; Curtis Coleman, a gubernatorial candidate, US Rep. Tom Cotton, the new Congressman from Arkansas’ Fourth District, and a panel on renewable energy and energy retrofits-a set of issues that President Clinton has long championed.

We will have many Presidential appointees from the Clinton administration and others who have worked closely with Bill Clinton over many years, including:

Bob Nash, president of Bob J. Nash and Associates in Little Rock, formerly USDA Under Secretary for Rural Development and then White House Director of Presidential Personnel in the Clinton administration;

Janis Kearney, a White House aide to President Clinton, and an author of several distinguished books, the most recent of which is about Daisy Bates, the famous Arkansas civil rights leader who courageously stood up for racial justice during the Little Rock Central High crisis of the Gov. Faubus era;

Kay Goss, former Associate Director of FEMA when that agency had a sterling reputation during the Clinton administration, now a nationally recognized emergency relief expert;

As mentioned above, Skip Rutherford, Ken Smith, and many others among us who knew Bill Clinton before he was President or even before he was Governor and Attorney General, even going back to when he began his political career as a young staffer for US Senator J. William Fulbright.

US Rep. Rick Crawford and former Lt. Gov. Bill Halter are invited.

We are still setting up the energy policy panel for the opening session and may have additional energy experts on Friday. Former US Assistant Secretary of the Interior Ken Smith, a noted energy policy expert, and Martha Jane Murray, manager for the Clinton Foundation Climate Change Initiative HEAL (Home Energy Affordability Loan) program for doing energy retrofits in Delta businesses and homes, will be among the energy experts.

We also are planning to find time for representatives of Future Fuel Chemical Co., which does great work producing biofuels among other impressive activities, the new Arkansas Advanced Energy Association, alt.Consulting, which has innovative energy policy projects in the Delta; Loretta Daniel of Murray State University, which does renewable energy projects in western Kentucky, the nonprofit Arkansas Public Policy Panel that has a great deal of expertise on energy policy, and an energy policy expert from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

We will send out an agenda when we hear from the few remaining main speakers as to when they can speak. We have had an unprecedented number of highly qualified leaders and organizations who asked to be on the program. We will need to ask everybody to be especially concise given the unusually heavy time pressures on the agenda.

Help us advocate for the Delta on May 2-3, 2013. Lee Powell, DGC (202) 360-6347