By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY, AL—The Alabama Senate Democratic Caucus held a press conference on Tuesday to unveil its 2013 Legislative Agenda, which revolves around the expansion of Medicaid in the State of Alabama. Starting in 2014, the state will be eligible for federal funds to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Democrats in the Senate see the expansion of Medicaid as one of the greatest opportunities for job creation and economic growth.
“Medicaid expansion stands to be one of the largest economic development projects the state has ever landed,” said Senate Minority Leader Vivian Davis Figures (D-Mobile). “It is projected that the State of Alabama would generate $20 billion in new economic activities and almost a billion in state tax revenues over the next six years. We simply cannot afford to say “no” to $20 billion being injected into Alabama’s economy which creates and helps save jobs we so desperately need.”
Senator Hank Sanders (D-Selma) remarked, “This is an opportunity for 300,000 additional people to get adequate medical care here in Alabama.” Sanders continued, “Those who oppose the expansion are standing in the hospital doors, they are standing in the doctor’s office doors, and keeping these hundreds of thousands out when it will not cost the State of Alabama anything to let them in.
It is estimated that payments to hospitals in Alabama will increase by an estimated $2.7 billion from 2014-2022 if Medicaid is expanded. Furthermore, it is estimated that for every $1 increase of federal spending on Medicaid, an additional 65-75 cents of economic activity is yielded.
“As a rural pharmacist, I can personally attest that 300,000 new patients with health coverage will be crucial to keeping doctors’ offices, hospitals and pharmacy doors open,” said Senator Billy Beasley (D-Clayton). “In turn, those that work in health care will spend billions of federal dollars on food, clothing and other spending within our state. I cannot imagine a better economic stimulus than pumping health care dollars into rural and urban Alabama.”
Democrats in the Senate called for all elected officials to stand with them in their efforts to expand Medicaid in the State of Alabama.
“We ask the Governor and fellow Legislators to join with us in supporting the expansion of Medicaid,” said Deputy Minority Leader Marc Keahey (D-Grove Hill). “Alabama’s Republicans must put aside Washington D.C. partisan politics and join with us to do what’s right by providing 300,000 Alabamians with access to healthcare and infusing our economy with $20 billion.”