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Fact check: Yes, Alabama pays Nebraska to manage an Alabama savings plan

Why is Alabama’s Treasury Department paying Nebraska’s Treasurer to manage a Medicaid-related savings plan in Alabama?

That question came to APR from a reader who had been told an outrageous tale of apparently misspent tax dollars: Alabama’s Treasurer, Young Boozer, was paying the Nebraska Treasurer an annual sum to manage the ABLE Savings Plan in Alabama.

Could this be true?

Turns out, yes.

That is 100 percent true. But it’s not clear yet why it’s true.

First, let’s lay out what we know.

Each year, Alabama’s Treasury Department sends the State of Nebraska a check for $20,000. According to Brittany Matthews in the Alabama Treasury office, that money pays the Nebraska Treasurer who is the trustee of the Alabama ABLE Program.

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That program, implemented in 2014, allows for disabled people in Alabama to open tax-free savings accounts that can be used to make disability-related purchases. The accounts don’t affect the person’s maximum threshold limits for receiving benefits through Medicaid and other programs.

Each state is required to offer an ABLE program through its treasury department. Alabama’s program, as odd as it might sound, is completely operated by Nebraska.

“(The $20,000 annual payments are) for the administration, operation and maintenance of the Achieving a Better Life Experience (Enable Alabama) program that the State of Alabama offers,” Matthews wrote in an email. “This includes marketing, investment management, site visits and other services. They manage the entire program for Alabama.”

Why this is the case isn’t clear.

A follow-up email from APR to Matthews, asking why Nebraska manages Alabama’s plan, was not answered on Monday afternoon.

However, it’s possible the decision is simple math. It might cost more than $20,000 annually for the state to manage its own ABLE program.

On the other hand, it could be yet another example of how the state’s failure to properly fund government offices has yet again cost taxpayers even more money.

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But one thing is certain: The Nebraska Treasurer is being paid by Alabama’s government to manage a government program in Alabama.

 

Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

DIG DEEPER

Opinion

He is uniquely qualified and is doing the job for the right reasons.

Opinion

Fortunate for us and those we love, we have an outstanding department of senior services with many benefits for those they serve.

Elections

Boozer was appointed treasurer by Gov. Kay Ivey in October to fill the unexpired term of John McMillan through 2022.

Opinion

He starts all his speeches by telling people: “Young Boozer, yes, that is my real name.”