By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
In a speech on Monday, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) announced that the state of Alabama would not be setting up a state health insurance exchange to implement Obamacare in Alabama and that the state would not expand Alabama Medicaid for an estimated 304,000 additional beneficiaries.
Governor Bentley said, “I am not going to set up a state-based exchange that will create a tax burden of up to $50 million on the people of Alabama. As governor, I cannot support adding such a tax burden onto our citizens. The Affordable Care Act is neither affordable nor does it actually improve health care. Congress and the President have said they want to work together to solve the fiscal crisis facing this country, and I suggest they start with this health care bill.”
Gov. Bentley said, “I have been speaking individually and in group settings with governors from all over the country, and I feel that a significant number of these governors will take a similar stand. That will send a clear signal to all of our elected leaders in Washington that the health care bill should be changed.”
Gov. Bentley also slammed shut the door on Medicaid expansion.
“I also will not expand Medicaid under the current structure that exists because we simply cannot afford it,” Governor Bentley said.
When candidate Barack H. Obama was running for office in 2008 he told the American people that they did not have to participate in his grand vision for reforming healthcare. Once elected, however, President Obama made purchase of health insurance a requirement of every man, woman, and child in the United States. Failure to comply with the President’s order will result in penalties to be applied to your federal income tax return. Failure to pay will result in enforcement action by the Internal Revenue Service that could include additional fines and even imprisonment.
Similarly, the PPACA ordered all 50 state governments to expand their state Medicaid plans to include millions more people. Alabama joined 25 other states in suing the federal government to block the controversial act from going into effect. While the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the argument that individual could not be forced by the Government to purchase health insurance it did uphold the states’ rights not to be coerced into participating in the enormously expensive Medicaid expansion.
Governor Bentley’s announcement that Alabama will not be participating in implementing Obamacare on the people of Alabama presumably means that the federal government will use its own resources to set up insurance exchanges in Alabama and the other conservative states which have refused to collaborate with the federal government in implementing the President’s policies in their jurisdictions.
It is unclear at this time whether the PPACA gives the President and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services the authority to implement the insurance exchange or will the President have to go to the U.S. Congress and ask for further appropriations. Throughout President Obama’s presidency the normal budgetary practices and policies have been set aside and President Obama has been allowed great flexibility in moving funds from program to program.
Hardest hit by Monday’s announcement will be lower income Alabamians. Obamacare requires that individuals purchase health insurance; but purchasing a health insurance policy for an individual can be expensive. Medicaid expansion would have given health benefits to most Alabamians making less than $30,000. Now instead of getting free government benefits they will have to buy their own insurance or get hit by PPACA fines. Poor children, poor pregnant women, and poor seniors will not be affected by Monday’s announcement because their insurance is provided by the current Alabama Medicaid Program.