By Beth Clayton
Alabama Political Reporter
I usually follow the #ALpolitics hashtag on Twitter, and it’s usually good for up-to-date news and up-to-date laughs. Lately, those laughs have come from the Governor’s account–he’s taken to the Twittersphere multiple times in the last week to emphasize the growing need to fully fund Medicaid, highlighting faces of people–particularly children–whose coverage would be at risk without a state lottery.
Governor, don’t be ridiculous. Don’t play the pity card now, after you’ve spent the past two years denying Medicaid expansion that would save an estimated 600 lives every year.
With the stroke of a pen, more than 300,000 Alabamians would get health care coverage–300,000 smiling faces that don’t make it to the Governor’s PR team, but who matter just as much as everyone else in this state.
The thing is, we’ve cut Medicaid coverage down to the bare minimum allowable by federal law, putting too many Alabama families in an unsustainable coverage gap–a gap where they don’t qualify for Medicaid, but they can’t afford outrageous premiums for private insurance.
And now, our inability to cover even just the administrative costs of Medicaid is putting the Regional Care Organizations in jeopardy, costing us millions and undermining the plan to restructure and retool Medicaid to prepare for expansion.
It’s one step forward and two steps back–and we’re supposed to believe the lottery was a magical silver bullet.
Let’s table the discussion about why using the lottery to fund Medicaid is a ridiculous idea in the first place–the revenue won’t be able to keep up with the expanding costs of care–and why the money should be put into education as an investment, not a Band Aid. That’s a different opinion piece for a different time.
Let’s just look at the Governor’s glaringly inconsistent positions on Medicaid, and do the one thing we always do: follow the money.
The important thing to remember is this isn’t about Medicaid for needy families at all. It’s about money. The question is–as it always is–whose money?
The lottery bill stood to make a few people a lot of money, even before the first Power Ball drawing. But the Governor can’t sell the public on a money making scheme for high-powered lobbyists–so he used the faces of Medicaid.
He didn’t want you to ask how people are being paid now that AceGov isn’t in the picture, and he didn’t want you to ask about that pesky compact with Poarch Creek–and if he did, he wouldn’t have gotten so defensive when the Alabama Political Reporter wrote the story.
Governor, quit exploiting families who need health care to promote your private interests and fluff up the General Fund. If you were in the market to help, you’d expand Medicaid and put this whole thing to bed.