Alabama Sen. Doug Jones filed a bill on Wednesday that will require a federal agency to report on the amount Medicaid money taken or declined by states.
In a statement from his office, Jones said Alabama declined an estimated $14 billion in federal funding. He said the result has “left more than 200,000 Alabamians without health coverage.”
“This legislation will shed light on the extent to which failing to expand Medicaid is costing taxpayers and expediting the closure of our rural hospitals,” Jones said. “Every year, Alabamians send hard-earned tax dollars to Washington – let’s bring billions of those dollars back to our state and put them to good use for a healthier workforce and a stronger economy.”
Alabama, as of June 2018, has not expanded Medicaid in the state as a part of the Affordable Care Act. In 2015, Gov. Robert Bentley said he was looking into expanding Medicaid to help rural communities, but he never took any action in office.
Another bill sponsored by Jones is the SAME Act, which would allow states to expand Medicaid at pre-2014 rates in federal funding. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a health care publication, rates for Medicaid expansion gradually decrease over a number of years.
“The federal match rate falls to 95 percent in 2017, 94 percent in 2018, 93 percent in 2019, and then 90 percent in 2020 and beyond,” the publication wrote.
The SAME Act is co-sponsored by Jones and nine other senators.
“We need to bring every possible tax dollar back home to Alabama that we can and at the same time make sure that our most vulnerable Alabamians get access to health care,” Jones said of the act. “This legislation eliminates the last argument against Medicaid expansion and ensures that every state gets the same deal from the federal government.”