By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—”The more I look at this, the more I realized that the decisions we make on healthcare in Alabama are going to have a dramatic effect on our economy, on our tax revenues, and the use thereof. These decisions will affect every area of our lives, from the smallest communities to the future on our nation,” so is the assessment of State Senator Greg Reed (R-Jasper).
Reed who serves as the Chairman of the Senate Health Committee has deeply immersed himself in the challenges and opportunities that lay ahead concerning health and healthcare in Alabama.
From the Affordable Care Act to the deficiencies in the Medicaid budget and its reorganization under the new Permanent Committee on Medicaid, Reed, is looking for solutions to make the best decisions on behalf of the state’s 4 million plus citizens.
Reed says he believes the health of our citizens and the healthcare that is available is “an issues with great importances and we all must look for ways to make a positive impact.”
Reed relates a resent conversation that he had with some local Alabama businessmen, “We were discussing the coming Constitutional Amendment and the funding of Medicaid and they said, ‘Medicaid is an entitlement program and if it’s short we should just cut the bottom out of it and let it be what it is.’”
“That may sound good,” said Reed, “but the problem is, if you cut $200 million out of Medicaid and fund the rest of the general, that’s not the whole story.”
Reed went on to explain that when $200 million is cut from Medicaid it is really like cutting what is approaching $600 million because of the matching funds.
“Then look at the ancillary gross domestic product associated with that $600 million then you are looking at a economic benefit of twice that amount,” Reed said. “In reality you are looking at losing a billion or more dollars related to that one decision to cut $200 million out of Medicaid.”
Reed said he wanted the men present to think about what it would mean to Alabama’s financial health to suddenly take a billion dollars out of the economy.
“This is a bigger decision than a pure market economy where we make cuts,” said Reed. “If you take that billion dollars out of Medicaid you are going to have hospitals and clinics especially in rural Alabama not make it.”
Reed says he believes the decisions made concerning Medicaid, the Healthcare Exchange and whether to expand Medicaid, are not only going to impact “healthcare but the state fiscal future not only immediately but for decades to come.”
He also advises caution as the state moves forward, “Some of the choices may change with a Romney Presidency and a new congress but the Affordable Care Act and these issues are realities we face.”
Reed points to the fact that the baby-boomer generation continues to age and require more healthcare making the “challenges today are growing greater every year.”
“There is a great deal of research being complied and options for how Alabama faces these choices,” said Reed. “I would like for us to not make a rush to judgement or rush to action concerning some of the federal issues without fully understanding what decisions have to be made.”
Reed says he will continue to work with the Governor and his fellow legislators to find the right path for Alabama.