By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Alabama State House of Representatives member Thomas Jackson (D) from Thomasville released a written statement following revelations of a secret Monday meeting between Governor Robert Bentley (R) and leaders of the state legislature about proposed plans to implement a state Healthcare Exchange in Alabama. The state healthcare exchanges are authorized under President Obama’s controversial Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (better known as Obamacare).
Rep. Jackson said, “Running government from secret places is not democracy. It is hypocritical for the governor to be planning these exchanges in secret while telling the public that he is waiting until after the election to set them up. It is also hypocritical that he would have these meetings and not invite any Democrats or African Americans to participate. He has no problem asking us to help him pass his constitutional amendment on September 18th, but he doesn’t want to include us in the discussions about the healthcare exchanges. We are being pushed aside, and it is very hypocritical.”
Representative Jackson said, “We have to bring everybody to the table if we are going to move forward. The Republicans need to cross the aisle and work with Democrats if they want to move forward with the healthcare exchange. And they need to cut out this hypocritical rhetoric and stop saying they are opposed to Obamacare while they are working in secret to implement it.”
Governor Bentley is a Republican. The Republicans control both the Alabama House of Representatives and the Alabama Senate and (if united) can ram any agenda through the legislature without any Democrat votes.
Senators Sessions (R) and Shelby (R) are among a group of 12 U.S. Senators and 61 Congressmen who signed a letter encouraging the nation’s Governors to reject all calls to establish healthcare insurance exchanges. The group of conservative lawmakers wrote, “We encourage you to oppose any creation of a state health care exchange mandated under the President’s discredited health care law. These expensive, complex, and intrusive exchanges impose a threat to the financial stability of our already-fragile state economies with no certainty of a limit to total enrollment numbers.”
If the state of Alabama does not set up a healthcare exchange to help uninsured citizens find health insurance the federal government will set one up for Alabama and it will not cost the state of Alabama anything to create or operate. Advocates of a state healthcare exchange argue that the state of Alabama can set up a better healthcare exchange plan than the federal government can. Critics say that is doubtful since the state of Alabama would still have to comply with all of the numerous federal rules and regulations set up by President Obama and Washington bureaucrats.
Governor Robert Bentley has said that he will wait until after the presidential election on November 6th to make a decision on establishing a state healthcare exchange of not. Gov. Bentley also has not yet made a decision whether on whether or not to expand Alabama Medicaid. At least 8 other Governors have announced that they will not set up a state healthcare exchange and they will not expand their Medicaid programs.
Rep. Thomas Jackson is an Associate Pastor for the Church of God in Christ. He has represented Alabama House District 68 since 1994.