State power is becoming an illusion. If the federal bureaucracy doesn’t like a policy set by the State of Arkansas it has a sure-fire way of changing it. MONEY. Arkansas always chooses federal money over state policy.
The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) informed its employees they must be vaccinated for COVID-19 or lose their jobs because the federal agency, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), says they must impose the mandate as a condition for continuing to receive federal Medicaid and Medicare funding. The Chancellor of UAMS said the institution would lose $600 million in federal funding if UAMS fails to comply.
UAMS announced its vaccine mandate despite Act 977 of 2021 which prohibits Arkansas state agencies and state funded institutions from imposing mandatory vaccines. The law allows the Legislative Council, which is a legislative committee, to grant a waiver from the restriction. Only after announcing its mandate did UAMS take its request to the Legislative Council.
The Legislative Council met last Friday but did not grant or deny the request. Instead, it postponed action while waiting on a federal court decision on a challenge to the federal edict. The court decision is expected later this year. If the edict is upheld there is little doubt the Legislative Council will cave in and choose the money. And, if so, UAMS employees and employees of some state agencies that rely on money from CMS will only have a short time before the January 4 deadline.
Arkansas politicians and bureaucrats always choose the money. In the mid-1970’s the federal government said lower your speed limit to 55 mph or lose highway funding. Arkansas jumped. Last decade the federal government said to receive certain education funds you must adopt common core education standards. Common core was much hated by parents, students, and teachers but Arkansas jumped. The federal government said we have lots of money for Obamacare Medicaid expansion and it is initially free. The program primarily is for able bodied working age adults who don’t work and critics said it will spend Arkansas money that could have been used on the truly needy, such as the disabled, but hospitals wanted the money and Arkansas jumped.
If the federal government wins in court Arkansas politicians will jump. If the federal edict is upheld is there any state policy that will be safe from federal blackmail?
Did you know that 30% of the funds spent by Arkansas are federal funds?[i]
[i] Bureau of Legislative Research slide # 19 of https://www.arkleg.state.ar.us/Bureau/Document?type=pptx&source=blr%2FFiscal%2FPublications%2FA.++PowerPoints%2C+Fund+Types%2C+Important+Dates&filename=B.+2020+Financing+State+Programs (NOTE: this link is to a download)