Today is a significant day for Americans because it marks the first day in history that citizens are able to enroll for health care coverage made possible by the Affordable Care Act. While many individuals will have new opportunities for health care, Alabamians who live below the poverty level will have no new health care coverage options due to Governor Bentley’s failure to expand Medicaid in our state.
“The Governor’s inaction to expand Medicaid has created a gap in coverage that prevents the poorest among us to gain subsidized health care coverage on the new insurance exchanges,” said Senate Minority Whip Bobby Singleton (D-Greensboro). “This decision leaves 300,000 Alabamians uninsured and prevents billions of our own tax dollars from coming back to our communities and hospitals.”
For every $1 increase in federal spending on Medicaid, it is estimated that an additional 65-75 cents of economic activity is yielded. A study conducted by two professors at The University of Alabama at Birmingham estimates that economic activity generated by Medicaid expansion far exceeds the cost, and expansion would also increase revenue to the state general fund budget by $935 million over seven years.
“Study after study has shown that the expansion of Medicaid will generate $20 billion of economic activity, which means: new jobs, increased tax revenue, and more paying customers for doctors, pharmacists and hospitals. As a rural pharmacist, I truly understand how critical this decision is to those of us who work in the healthcare industry,” said Senator Billy Beasley (D-Clayton). “It is unthinkable to think that we could walk away from this large an economic development opportunity in these times.”
As they have done over the past year, Democrats in the Alabama Senate continue to call on Governor Bentley to expand Medicaid before January 1, 2014, which is when that portion of the Affordable Care Act will go into effect.
“The Governor has until January to expand Medicaid, and the failure to do so will cause a great deal of harm to Alabamians,” remarked Senator Roger Bedford (D-Russellville). “Therefore, I call on our Governor, who is also a doctor, to remember the promises he made when he took the Hippocratic Oath and do the right thing for Alabama’s most vulnerable citizens by expanding Medicaid.”