By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Tuesday, April 21, the Alabama Senate overwhelmingly adopted Senate Joint Resolution 34, to express the body’s intent not to expand or fund the expansion of the Alabama Medicaid Program. The bill was sponsored by State Senator Trip Pittman (R-Montrose).
The Administration of President Obama has been pressuring the State to accept the expansion, which is part of his controversial Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, better known as Obamacare.
State Senator Gerald Allen said on Facebook, “Accepting a core component of ObamaCare – Medicaid expansion – is a poor financial decision for our State. Yesterday, I voted for a resolution letting Gov Bentley know the legislature will not fund an Obama-approved Medicaid expansion, especially considering our general fund is already stretched beyond available revenue.” 20 Senators cosponsored the legislation.
Many GOP lawmakers are suspicious that Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) will attempt to expand Medicaid by Executive Order, and that is why the Governor is seeking to dramatically increase taxes going into Alabama’s General Fund by $541 million a year. If the legislature gives the Governor the money that he has requested, after one time debts are paid in 2016 there could be an additional $150 to $180 million a year in revenue. Gov. Bentley’s appointment of a health care task force has also raised suspicions by some legislators.
According to the text, the resolution expresses concerns that expansion, whether under the ACA or via waivers, would dramatically increase the number of Alabamians dependent upon public assistance, would not offer the State any meaningful control over eligibility requirements, and would further strain the State’s General Fund.
The Alabama Policy Institute (API) supports the resolution opposing Obamacare expansion. API said in a statement that the conservative group:
“…has worked tirelessly to educate and inform the general public and our state leaders on the negative consequences experienced by other states after expansion. Aside from the added strain to a state’s current Medicaid program, the state share of the cost of expansion has been repeatedly underestimated. Furthermore, there exists a very real threat that the federal government will renege on the enhanced reimbursement rate used to entice states to expand. We applaud this action by the Alabama Senate.”
The resolution is also supported by the Alabama Forestry Association, Sixty Plus, Alabama Free Market Alliance, and the Foundation for Government Accountability.
Senate Democrats have vowed to filibuster the rest of the session if this bill moves forward.
The Alabama House Democratic Caucus has made expanding Medicaid part of their agenda for the 2015 legislative session.
The Resolution now moves to the Alabama House of Representatives.