By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
In her monthly newsletter, Congresswoman Martha Roby (R) from Montgomery reminds constituents of a less frequently discussed issue with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) better known as “Obamacare.” While everyone debates whether or not Obamacare’s individual mandate that we have to buy healthcare insurance is constitutional or not and whether or not Obamacare can force religious institutions to pay for healthcare procedures, they have moral questions about: the costliest part of Obamacare is the massive unfunded liability that it places on our state governments through the impact of Medicaid expansion.
Representative Roby said, “This week, I participated in an Education and the Workforce Committee hearing to discuss various federal policies that affect the states. During the hearing, I addressed the negative impact Medicaid expansion would have on state government. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that, as a result of President Obama’s health care reform law, Medicaid will expand to cover an additional 25.6 million enrollees in the next decade, increasing the cost on states by more than $118 billion through 2023. Medicaid is jointly funded by state and federal government, therefore, the expansion would place a burden not just on the federal government, but on the states as well. As Medicaid is already significantly underfunded, many states are unsure they can devote even more resources to cover this expansion.”
Rep Roby continued, “The Medicaid provision is just one of many included in Obama’s health care law, which would create more government while increasing taxes—directly and indirectly—on Americans. I was sent to Congress to root-out unnecessary federal spending and shrink the size of government. One of the first actions I took after being elected to Congress was vote to repeal the President’s health care law.”
Congresswoman Roby said, “It is important to find ways to encourage affordable health care for citizens without placing additional burdens on state budgets. I look forward to implementing market-based reforms that actually lower cost, increase access, and maintain high quality of care.”
Medicaid commissioner, R. Bob Mullins, Jr., has estimated that Alabama’s part of the Medicaid program will consume about 35.2% of the total 2012 general fund budget.
Representative Jim McClendon (R) from Springville and Chairman of the Alabama House of Representatives Health Committee in remakrs maid earlier to the Alabama Political Reporter said that early estimates show that the state likely will have a $100 million hole in the Alabama Medicaid budget for 2012. That does not include President Obama’s massive expansion of Medicaid that automatically takes effect in 2014 if Obamacare is not repealed.
Commissioner Mullins said that when Medicaid expands it” is estimated that we will require about 92 percent of the General Fund Budget by FY 2020 and that cannot happen,” he emphasized. “Second, because of our economy and the Affordable Care Act, we anticipate an increase of around 500,000 new enrollees in Medicaid by 2014.” Commissioner Mullins said that Medicaid will need another 1000 primary care doctors to meet that level of demand.
Chairman McClendon says that the federally ordered Medicaid expansion in 2014 would be “a doomsday scenario.” “Every penny in the general fund will go to Medicaid. We can’t let that happen. We are about maxed out today. We have no way of paying for that under the current tax structure.” McClendon hopes that the act, which the state of Alabama is currently suing to block in federal courts will be overturned or repealed.
Medicaid is a shared cost state and federal program designed to assist the poorest among us with their health care costs. However as the economy has deteriorated more and more Alabama citizens have turned to the program for their medical needs contributing to growing deficit spending by the federal government and straining the state of Alabama’s budget.
According to statistics in Alabama Medicaid’s 2010 report, Alabama has a total population of 4,838,236. Of those, 1,026,429 (21.2%) are Medicaid eligible. Alabama has 1,356,124 children. Of those, 589,894 (43.5%) are Medicaid eligible. 45% of Medicare eligible Alabama residents are Black, 45.6% are white, and 5.4% are Hispanic. The county with the highest percentage of Medicaid eligible residents is Wilcox with 43.4%. Shelby County has the lowest percentage of Medicaid eligible residents with just 7.7%. Alabama Medicaid had a 2010 total budget of $5,394,338,268. $3,957,178,091 came from the federal government and the remaining $1,437,160,177 came from the State of Alabama. Medicaid’s Expansion in the number of eligible Alabama residents could cost the taxpayers of Alabama another $1.5 billion or more.
Congresswoman Martha Roby represents Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District. Rep. Roby is unopposed in the March 13th Primary; but she has a Democratic Party opponent in the November 6th General Election.
To read all of Rep. Roby’s column addressing this and other topics: