Reps. Bryan King (R-Green Forest) and Darrin Williams (D-Little Rock) debated the expansion of Medicaid and potential voter ID law changes on this week’s edition of Talk Business.
King is a State Senator-elect and Williams, unopposed for re-election, is the current Speaker-designate for the 2013 General Assembly.
Williams defended the Medicaid expansion, while King said he questions projections being made about the state’s Medicaid program.
“When it comes to government predictions, most of the time it’s wrong,” King said. He cited predictions about the federal stimulus, unemployment, and even state tobacco tax collections.
“I just see the federal government, they’re in financial trouble, we know the deficit’s an issue. Relying on that — the federal government’s promises — is going to be a concern,” King said.
Williams countered that when it comes to Medicaid projections, the statistics are predictable.
“We know that there are over 250,000 Arkansans between 19 and 64 who don’t have insurance, they’re uninsured. We know that our rural hospitals are suffering,” Williams said.
He advocated for Arkansas taking advantage of the federal dollars becoming available for a Medicaid expansion and other aspects of the national Affordable Care Act.
“This is a way we can provide service to an underserved community. We can make our state more healthy. And whether you like the law or not, it is the law. It’s not going away,” Williams said.
King and Williams disagreed on the need for voter ID laws. King said suggestions that voter fraud doesn’t exist have been proven wrong with recent revelations in the resignation of Rep. Hudson Hallum (D-Marion) and the subject deserves further discussion.
“We have voter fraud,” said King, who added that election officials and prosecutors are wary to involve themselves in cases that have voter irregularities.
“Voter ID would help protect the integrity of the elections,” said King, who pushed for a voter ID law in the last legislative session.
Williams said that voter ID laws would not have stopped some of the exposed fraud in east Arkansas stemming from Hallum’s case.
“If you look at the voter ID law that Representative King introduced and that Republican legislatures across the country have introduced, the only type of election fraud that it would curtail is where a person tries to impersonate someone,” Williams said.
You can watch their full discussion below.