By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
The Rainy Day Patriot sent an open letter to Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) on Monday urging him to stand with other conservative governors and refuse to set up an Alabama Healthcare Exchange. The deadline for the state to announce their intention on whether or not to implement President Barack H. Obama’s controversial healthcare legislation is Friday November 16th, though if the state misses this deadline the final deadline to make a decision whether or not to comply with President is reportedly on December 4th, 2012.
The President of the Tea Party Patriots, Zan Green wrote,
“We are encouraged by Governor Bentley as he speaks of staying the course with the other governors of the 34 states who are proposing to refuse to set up state healthcare exchanges. We expect him, as our last line of defense against the Tyranny of the Federal Government, to protect the citizens of Alabama. He will be saving Alabama taxpayers billions of dollars by defying the federal government.”
President Green continued,
“ObamaCare gives the federal government the authority to step in and operate an exchange itself in Alabama, but those who would be eligible will be paid in full by the federal government, not Alabama. ObamaCare also requires a state run exchange before subsidies can be given, without one, this would not be funded. Congress has not appropriated any funds for this contingency. In effect, these governors can neutralize the devastating financial effects of ObamaCare. This should be an easy call for any fiscally responsible governor.”
The Patriots concluded,
“The Supreme Court’s ruling against the Obama administration’s attempt to blackmail states by withholding the Medicaid payments if the exchanges were not set up, has paved the way for governors and state legislators to become the real heroes of the fight against ObamaCare. We respectfully ask you, Governor Bentley, to be one of these courageous governors. We will support you and all the other governors who have taken on this fight to protect our country from the over-reaching Federal Government. Governor Bentley we beseech you to protect Alabamians.”
On Saturday, the Governor’s Legislative Director, Blaine Gailliher said on Facebook that, “Bentley believes that the Affordable Health Care Act is the single worst piece of legislation to be passed in our lifetimes.”
Galliher went on to say that Bentley believes that the PPACA is neither affordable nor about health care and that the Governor, “is exploring all possible avenues through which he can stop this law from ever being implemented in Alabama. This includes all legal and political options and he is reaching out to all conservative governors to get as many as possible to join him in his fight against this unjustified and unwise federal intrusion.”
Governor Bentley has appointed a tribunal of legal and constitutional experts to help advise him on how to proceed. While conservative activists and thinkers are pressuring the Governor to reject the Healthcare Exchange and Obamacare’s massive expansion of the already financially troubled Alabama Medicaid program, powerful corporate special interests including Alabama’s hospitals are pressuring Governor Bentley to accept the program because of the vast influx of federal dollars which would fill their own coffers.
Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA or ‘Obamacare’), the federal government would pay all of the costs of Medicaid expansion for the first three years. After that, the state of Alabama would be obligated to pay $400 to $600 million a year up and beyond the cost of the existing Medicaid program. In 2013, the existing Alabama Medicaid program is costing $604 million a year. The people of the state have recently approved a massive raid of the Alabama Trust Fund to keep providing the current level of benefits for Alabama Medicaid beneficiaries for the next three years.
Currently the state has no plan in place to either pay back the Trust Fund or to continue to provide Medicaid benefits at their current level when those three years run out. President Obama’s reelection likely means higher federal income taxes, a greater regulatory burden on businesses and job creators, and continued poor economic growth making it much more unlikely that the state’s economy will grow its way out of the current fiscal crisis.
There is certainly no revenue stream in place to run a state healthcare exchange and provide free government health insurance to another 400,000 to 600,000 Alabama residents without either a massive tax increase or by raiding the state’s Education Trust Fund and cutting teachers’ jobs, pay, and benefits.