By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Saturday, January 12, 2013, the Alabama State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) will hold the “Rally for the Affordable Care Act” on the steps of the State Capitol in Montgomery from 12:00 to 2:00 p.m. protesting Alabama Governor Robert Bentley’s decision not to implement the state healthcare exchange and expand Alabama Medicaid as was called for by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (better known as Obamacare) in the state of Alabama.
The rally is sponsored by the Alabama Conference of the NAACP, the Alabama Appleseed Center for Law & Justice Inc., the Greater Birmingham Ministries, the Madison County Democrats, the Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice (ACIJ), and health care reform supporters.
On Tuesday, November 14, 2012, Gov. 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.” “I also will not expand Medicaid under the current structure that exists because we simply cannot afford it.”
Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that President Obama signed into law on March 23, 2010, Alabama had no choice but to follow President Obama’s orders regarding the Medicaid expansion; however Alabama joined 25 other states in a lawsuit that was ultimately decided in favor of the plaintiffs on that point. The Supreme Court ruled that the Congress and President Obama could not force the sovereign states to implement the Medicaid expansion against their wishes. This gave Bentley the necessary authority to reject the costly expansion, which he did on November 14th.
In response the Alabama Conference of the NAACP responded with their own statement. The prominent Civil Rights groups said, “The Alabama State Conference of the NAACP is disheartened by the Governor’s stance on this critical issue to the health and welfare of Alabamians. The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation estimated that up to 351,000 Alabamians could benefit by gaining insurance for themselves and their families. This number includes citizens who work for minimum wages or low wages and cannot afford insurance. The law also includes those workers who are younger than 65 years of age; possibly indicating a good percentage of the coverage citizens would be selecting would be preventative. These citizens pay taxes out of their wages, yet their health care needs, as with other needs, seems to be of little importance to the political leaders who receive health care at the tax-payer’s expense. Alabama’s cost to insure these citizens would be minimal and would be a good investment for the citizens of this state…an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The NAACP requests that the Governor reconsider his position and do the right thing to move Alabama forward in health care as well as other areas.” “The fact that Alabama continues to insist on keeping its citizens poor, uneducated, and on the bottom of the health ladder is unconscionable. As citizens, we should remember these facts when we vote for leaders in Alabama.”
Speakers at Saturday’s event will include: Montgomery Attorney Julian L. McPhillips, Jr.; executive director of Alabama Appleseed; the, executive director of Greater Birmingham Ministries, Scott Douglas; the executive director of the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama, Isabel Rubio; NAACP regional director, Kevin Myles; the President of the Alabama State Conference of the NAACP Benard Simelton; and health care blogger, Dr. Pippa Abston.
Dr. Abston writing at the liberal website LeftinAlabama said that the Medicaid expansion, “Would extend Medicaid benefits to adults below 133% of the federal poverty level. There is nothing in the ACA to help them otherwise—over 100% of poverty, they are eligible for subsidies on the Exchange, but they may not be able to afford the premiums and cost-sharing required.” “If you are at 100% of poverty or below, you will have NO access to subsidies on the Exchange. So it is the Medicaid Expansion or nothing.” “You could work more than 60 hrs. a week at minimum wage and still be below the 100% poverty level! You could get Medicaid for your children, but for you—nothing. I see this in my office every day: Hardworking parents or even grandparents raising children, who can’t get health insurance. Many of them know they have untreated high blood pressure, untreated asthma, untreated diabetes—all their resources go into doing everything they can for the children. Wouldn’t you do the same? Sadly, many will die early from the long-term effects of these illnesses.”
Alabama House minority leader Craig Ford (D) from Gadsden said in a written statement, “Governor Bentley says we can’t afford to do right by them, but he is wrong. Ask him why we can afford to hand out subsidy after subsidy to big businesses as “incentives” to employ people at wages or hours too low to get insurance. They are increasing our healthcare costs, but somehow we can still afford to give them welfare. Gov. Bentley’s decision to reject the expansion of Medicaid and to turn over control of our state’s health insurance exchange to the federal government makes no sense. Financially, Alabama would actually make money on the expansion of Medicaid. And giving control of our health insurance exchange to the federal government when we could control it ourselves is inconsistent with our Alabama values.”
For more information about the event contact Benard Simelton at (256) 426-6406, Constance Winston At (256) 468-4000, or visit the Alabama Conference of the NAACP’s web site at: