By Lee Hedgepeth
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY – On this week’s episode of the Alabama Political Reporter’s, The V: The Voice of Alabama Politics, Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Parker Griffith spoke to host Bill Britt about GOP House Budget Chairman Steve Clouse’s recent flip-flop on Medicaid expansion.
“Steve Clouse is not only a dedicated, patriotic American,” Griffith said, “but he also feels strongly about Alabama. If you look at the numbers – he’s chair of ways and means – he knows the financial heart of Alabama, and he knows that we cannot continue without expanding Medicaid and reforming it.”
Rep. Clouse, R-Ozark, recently came out in favor of expanding the Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, telling Capitol Journal’s Don Dailey, “I can see us as we’re going forward probably maybe moving into the expansion of Medicaid.”
Griffith continued: “So I admire him for breaking with Bentley, because Bentley is not thinking about this. He is only doing what he’s told, but Clouse has a responsibility to think about it. So, I’m happy that he split with Bentley. We’re going to expand Medicaid. We have a plan. It’s something we need to do.”
Although the cost of any Medicaid expansion would gradually increase after 2017, research conducted by the University of Alabama at Birmingham and further review by the University of Alabama conclude that given the increased demand in the health care market the would occur under the expansion, tax revenue from the program would top $1 billion, bringing 30,700 jobs to the State, and providing access to health care for 300,000 currently uninsured Alabamians.
On The V, Griffith also explained that while the Governor and others criticize the Affordable Care Act, it has saved Alabamians money already through certain provisions hat even we like.
“The only reason we’re not doing it in Alabama is that our governor says that it’s part of Obamacare,” Griffith told Bill Britt.
“Well, there are several parts of Obamacare that we like. We don’t want our insurance company to cut us off because we’ve spent too much money on our own health. We like for our children to be able to stay on our medical care until age twenty six. We like the idea of expanding Medicaid and reforming it, because it is a part of providing health care to all Alabamians.”
This fact – ACA provisions saving Alabamians money – is something Rep. Clouse has also pointed out. In his interview with Capitol Journal, Clouse credited Obamacare (and himself) for saving Alabamians $10 million from the General Fund Budget by abolishing a program under which Alabama was required to subsidize health insurance for those who had exhausted their previous policies due to situations such as preexisting conditions. That subsidy program is now unnecessary given that such situations are covered under Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Though Clouse has said he has not approached Bentley about the topic, the Governor is sure to have seen former US Congressman Griffith’s campaign ads which are already drilling him on the topic.
Griffith and Bentley will face off in the November general election.