By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—Shortly after passage of legislation to raid BP settlement funds to cover Medicaid funding, Governor Robert Bentley, who has largely been absent from the process, praised it as a bipartisan “victory.”
Obviously, the Governor failed to hear the Democrat’s pleading for more Medicaid funding and to expand its availability under the Affordable Care Act.
Alabama Arise State Coordinator, Kimble Forrister, sees a different victory: “Expanding Medicaid would be a victory for Alabama’s economy, budgets and families.” He praised the bill’s passage, but echoed the concerns expressed by both Republican’s and Democrats: “Still, the bottom line is that we got yet another temporary solution. Vulnerable Alabamians’ access to health care shouldn’t be left up to stopgaps or one-time money.”
House Minority Leader, Rep Craig Ford (D-Gadsden), weighed in saying, “While this Special Legislative Session did succeed in passing the BP bill, the legislature still failed to let the people vote on a lottery – which was the whole point of the Special Session in the first place.” He expressed dismay over his fellow lawmaker’s refusal to allow the voters to decided the gaming issue. “They trust the voters to elect them, but not to vote on whether they want a lottery or casinos,” Ford said.
Forrister said his organization believes Medicaid expansion would be a boost to the State’s ever-wanting General Fund Budget. He also warned, “Medicaid is essential to the hospitals and clinics on which we all rely. Putting our State’s health care infrastructure at risk is no way to build a stronger Alabama…[and] Neither is lurching from one crisis to another because of a repeated failure to solve the General Fund’s long-term shortfall.”
Bentley’s victory is a cause for worry, a warning and broken promises to others.