More than 60 people, mostly local business owners, turned out Thursday morning in Conway for the Health Care Business Forum held by the Campaign for Responsible Health Reform, Associated Builders and Contractors and Americans for Prosperity. 

State Sen. Gilbert Baker, R-Conway, told those assembled that Medicaid provisions in the health care reform bill scheduled for debate in the U.S. Senate would put a greater burden on state finances and that the bill as a whole would be “a job killer” in the state, as it would require employers to dish out more money for workers’ insurance to comply with new government-mandated coverage requirements.

“There’s not a national legislator in Arkansas who should even be considering this bill,” Baker said. “It’s bad for jobs; it’s a job killer.”

The bill proposes that state Medicaid increases be subsidized through a three-to-one match, Baker said, but as Arkansas’ constitution prohibits “spending dollars that we don’t have” through the 1945 Revenue Stabilization Law prohibiting deficit spending in the state, the federal government “can throw three of those printed dollars down to us, but we have to find a real one.”

Baker, who is term-limited in the State Senate and is campaigning for the U.S. Senate seat occupied by Democrat Blanche Lincoln, whose vote on the bill could prove a “swing vote,” said that “if (Lincoln) votes for this, she’s gone, and maybe if she doesn’t vote for this she’s gone.”

Also speaking at the forum was Dr. Erick Novack, an Arizona orthopedic surgeon and former host of “The Erick Novack Show,” a weekly Phoenix-area conservative AM talk radio program, who has also testified before Congress on what he described as inaccuracy in President Barack Obama’s estimate of the number of uninsured Americans. Novack told those in attendance that the cost of proposed reform was being greatly underestimated, and that it could cost as much as $6 trillion rather than the $800 billion estimated by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The forum was held at a Nabholz Construction Co. conference room on Garland Street.

(Staff writer Joe Lamb can be reached at 505-1238 or by E-mail at joe.lamb@thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit.)