By Jennifer Marsden, MD
Candidate for House District 93
I commend Representative Steve Clouse (R), my opponent in the race for State House District 93, for his new bill HB 66 which would suspend the Alabama Health Insurance Program (AHIP) for certain Alabamians previously unable to get health insurance anywhere else. As he notes, the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or ObamaCare) now offers these citizens coverage which may even be cheaper than AHIP has offered. This saves the state money without leaving people out in the cold without health insurance and lets us benefit from a program our federal tax dollars are already paying for- the ACA.
However I would ask Representative Clouse and Governor (Dr.) Bentley to go one step further: let us benefit from another program our federal tax dollars are already paying for, by extending that concern to those now left out in the cold because we have refused to expand Medicaid in Alabama. Hard-working Alabamians unable to make more than 100% of the poverty index (which includes a single parent working at a minimum wage job with less than full time hours, like many jobs in Alabama) are caught in the so-called Medicaid Gap with no Medicaid coverage and TOO POOR to benefit from the subsidies offered by the ACA. Their neighbors who earn a few thousand dollars more a year, or who are legal immigrants even with incomes below the poverty index, can get ACA coverage often for under $50/month.
Expanding Medicaid will also provide coverage to half of Alabama’s uninsured Veterans and almost half of their spouses. It would add over 30,000 jobs to Alabama and help our rural hospitals stay open. All hospitals are now losing money since the federal government has stopped the prior grants to hospitals for care given to the uninsured (most of those patients were to be added to Expanded Medicaid rolls).