By Brandon Moseley
Friday, January 20, 2016 Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) is attending the inaugural ceremonies for President-elect Donald J. Trump (R).
Gov. Bentley said in a statement: “I am honored and excited for the opportunity to attend the historic inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump, the 45th President of the United States. As the Governor of Alabama, it is a privilege to witness this peaceful exchange of two administrations. While I am eager to observe the inauguration ceremony in person, this trip is about not wasting anytime getting to work.”
While the people of Alabama embraced Donald Trump, Gov. Bentley was highly skeptical of the New York City billionaire businessman and reality TV star.
Gov. Bentley endorsed Ohio Governor John Kasich (R) in the Alabama Republican Presidential Primary. Despite the Governor’s endorsement of his rival, Donald Trump still carried Alabama in the GOP Primary with Kasich finding no traction at all in Alabama, despite Bentley’s support. When an 11 year old videotape surfaced showing Trump using the p-word and talking about grabbing women by their genitals; Gov. Bentley said that he could no longer support the ticket and withdrew his endorsement of Trump in the general election. The loss of Bentley’s support had little effect on the people of Alabama. Donald Trump still carried Alabama and won more votes than any candidate in state history.
Gov. Bentley also has Alabama business to handle while in Washington D.C., specifically what to do with President Barack Obama’s federal takeover of the healthcare sector. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (Obamacare) is clearly failing. President Trump and congressional Republicans say that they are committed to repealing and replacing Obamacare; but what replaces it could have enormous repercussions on the states.
Gov. Bentley said, “Thursday I will be meeting with other Governors to discuss how we can best repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Alabama also has a remarkable role in this new Trump administration and I am pleased to be in attendance to help honor our state as Donald Trump takes the presidential oath of office.”
On Thursday, Gov. Bentley told the House Energy and Commerce Committee that states must be given flexibility in any Obamacare replacement. Bentley in a letter is asking that states be given the authority to set Medicaid benefits. The troubled Alabama Medicaid agency, more than any other state department, is responsible for the ongoing problems with the state general fund (SGF). Allowing the state to set benefits and qualification thresholds would be an enormous fiscal benefit for the government of Alabama. Currently the federal government sets those benefits and the qualification standards and requires that the state pay their portion of the enormously expensive federal and state partnership. When Obamacare required that states expand Medicaid to include poor singles, the state of Alabama sued and won a victory at the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled that states can not be forced by Congress to expand their Medicaid programs. Gov. Bentley then chose to refuse the expansion. That move saved the state millions of dollars; but the cost of Medicaid in Alabama is still growing faster than inflation or state revenues.