By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Alabama Senator Phil Williams (R) from Rainbow City and Alabama House Minority Leader Craig Ford (D) from Gadsden both represent Etowah County but they have markedly different views on Alabama Governor Robert Bentley’s controversial decision to reject creating a state healthcare exchange.
Senator Phil Williams said in a written statement, “I applaud Governor Bentley’s recent bold decision to oppose the establishment of a federally mandated healthcare exchange under the terms outlined in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, otherwise known affectionately as “Obamacare”.
The liberal Democrat leadership in the State House and Senate have already decried the Governor’s position and in doing so they continue to unmask themselves as the true liberals that they are. Liberals ignore the fact that such a federally mandated exchange, even created at the state level, does not mean it will be run with state input. The federal government would in fact provide, change, and update the policies and guidelines under which the exchange would operate. The truth is clear….if we as a state succumb benignly to the craggy grip of Obamacare by setting up a mandated healthcare exchange we have in turn exchanged our freedoms.”
Representative Craig Ford has a different view. Rep. Ford said, “I have been very disappointed to read that Gov. Bentley has chosen to hand over control of the state’s health insurance exchange to the federal government. Federal law requires the state to set up an insurance exchange. Because the governor has refused to follow the law, the federal government is going to set up the exchange anyway and without any input from the people of Alabama.”
Sen. Williams said, “It should be noted is that this was not a light decision that was made in some kneejerk fashion. On the contrary, after extensive analysis it was determined that the annual cost of operating the exchange in state taxpayer dollars would reach upwards of $50 million. As a sitting member of the Senate General Fund Committee I can testify firsthand that the State cannot afford to do so without raising taxes on its citizens. In essence the federal government has told Alabama lawmakers that we will have to raise state taxes to participate in the federal program. That is an overreach of the highest order.”
Rep. Ford said, “Gov. Bentley was originally a supporter of setting up a health insurance exchange. He even set up a commission to study implementing the exchange and asked three companies for proposals about how they would set up the exchange. But Gov. Bentley has flip-flopped on the exchanges, and now says he opposes them.”
Sen. Williams said, “The federally mandated healthcare exchange in turn creates additional unwanted bureaucracy and cost. The federal government under the Obama administration has become more bloated and the mandate of Obamacare has become a forced bloating of state government as well.”
Rep. Ford said, “The only thing the governor has accomplished is to take away our chance to be in control of the exchange. And for what? This choice isn’t in the state’s best interests. It doesn’t protect the state’s rights or stop the exchanges from being created. This choice is about playing politics, plain and simple.”