Between the poles
A Forrest City police officer picks up debris left by this 1992 Chevrolet Impala after it collided with a pair of poles near the intersection of Broadway and Washington Thursday morning. The accident was reported just before 11 a.m., when the car, driven by Tiffinie Humphrey, struck the poles. Humphrey was extricated from the vehicle and transported to Forrest City Medical Center. Photo by Fred Conley.
State representatives Marshall Wright, D-Forrest City, and Reginald Murdock, D-Marianna, each said they are happy to see the fiscal session coming to an end and the 2014 debate over private option in the Legislature’s rearview mirror.
Wright said he felt the session could have ended sooner, but said he felt the ultimate goal was reached with the 76-24 vote to pass private option Tuesday.
"I wish this had gone a little faster. I don't think it needed to take as long as it did to get this done, but our goal was to get this passed and we were able to accomplish that," said Wright.
"I think this will be really good for the people of the Delta and the people of Arkansas as a whole. We already have 100,000 people signed up, which lets the Legislature know that the people are supporting it," said Wright.
He also said he believes it is important for the public to understand that a vote in support of private option is not a vote for or against the Affordable Care Act.
"Some people think that supporting private option is supporting the Affordable Care Act and it simply is not a vote for or against ACA. This is more about providing health care to our residents in a manner that we in the state of Arkansas have determined is best for our residents," said Wright. "I think it's also important that people realize that 75 percent of the Legislature understood that this was our best route to maintain some control when it comes to providing health care."
Murdock said he is also happy with the passage of private option but said the fight to keep it in its current form will be an ongoing battle both at the polls and in the Legislature.
"I'm obviously happy that we were able to get this passed, and I think we did what was best for all of the citizens of Arkansas. I'm not happy with the amendment that was made, but for the good of the people, we did what was necessary to get this passed. This will mean so much to our rural hospitals and health care providers, our citizens and the economy of our state," said Murdock.
"We were able to move forward, but this isn't over at all. We will always have tweaks to it, and those tweaks will be determined by what the voters decide in November and the direction that the Legislature takes after that,” added Murdock. “This is something that we're going to have to deal with during every Legislative session and we will be back in January looking at it again.”
Murdock said that while the Affordable Care Act is federal law, there are ways to cripple it.
"There is a federal law which mandates that we have to provide health care, and while we have come up with a program to do that, there are those who oppose it who will continue to work to cripple what the law can do. By limiting the amount of marketing, the outreach and programs like that, you cut the legs out from under the program by limiting the amount of education that you can provide to the public, and that's one means of crippling it," said Murdock.
Both representatives agreed that the session should end Wednesday.
"Right now, we're just waiting to close out the session. It is on the desk, and I think it has to sit there for three days, so we'll go back Tuesday night and re-open the session and then come back on Wednesday morning and finish everything out," said Wright.