In Alabama, Republican politicians have ignored the question of Medicaid expansion or rejected it outright, refusing to bring the issue to the floor of the state Legislature, but an outgoing Republican senator and hospital officials are pushing for it to be on the 2019 legislative agenda.
Voters appear to be on the side against expansion, having overwhelmingly rejected Democratic gubernatorial candidate Walt Maddox, who based a large part of his campaign on Medicaid expansion.
Outside of the Yellowhammer State, though, election day shaped up to be a landmark moment for Medicaid expansion. More states are set to join Medicaid expansion in the next year than in any year since the expansion option created under the Affordable Care Act first became available in 2014.
That momentum in favor of expansion has yet to reach Alabama, which remains as one of the 14 states where politicians have refused to expand the health insurance program for low-income people.
“As we’ve seen more and more states expand, we still haven’t had this issue discussed on the floor of the Alabama Legislature, and we’re now six years down the road, and it looks like we’re emerging to be one of the few hold-out states,” said David Becker, an associate professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s School of Public Health.
Support for the program is spreading to more conservative areas. Voters in three deeply red states — Idaho, Nebraska and Utah — approved ballot initiatives requiring their state to expand Medicaid, and three other states — Kansas, Wisconsin and Maine — elected Democratic governors who are likely to push for expansion.
In Maine, their newly elected Democratic governor is likely to implement a Medicaid expansion plan put on hold by their current Republican governor after voters approved a ballot initiative last year.
Voters’ decisions at ballot boxes in those seven states come after Virginia’s Legislature earlier this year chose to support expansion, meaning eight states will likely expand or begin expanding their Medicaid programs over the next year. Virginia is already enrolling new beneficiaries.
Despite what appears to be a solid opposition among Alabama Republicans, some public health experts and hospital officials, including the Alabama Hospital Association, are issuing dire calls for a renewed debate.
“Medicaid expansion is the one thing the state can do to prevent more hospital closures, loss of jobs, and cutbacks on services,” said Danne Howard, the association’s chief policy officer.
The association — and the more than 100 individual hospitals it represents across Alabama, many of them rural and some of them teetering on the edge of closing — view the situation as so dire that the association plans to launch a renewed effort early next year to bring the discussion back to the forefront ahead of the 2019 legislative session, when a new class of state lawmakers will take office.
“It will impact or it will help rural hospitals because there are a large number of uninsured and unhealthy people in rural Alabama,” Howard said. “Alabama is predominantly a rural state, and between Medicare, the uninsured and Medicaid, that is the significant volume of patients in rural hospitals.”
A ‘critical’ need
Rural hospitals across the country, but particularly in non-expansion states like Alabama, are closing at an alarming rate, largely because an influx of money from more folk covered by Medicaid was intended to offset cuts to Medicare reimbursements built into the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama’s 2010 health care law.
With no offset there, hospitals have lost money. A solution needs to come quick, experts have said.
Six rural Alabama hospitals have closed since 2011, and more were closing before that year.
Though a few have reopened because of local tax increases, the situation could get worse. Nearly 90 percent of the remaining rural hospitals in Alabama are bleeding money — operating at a loss and routinely cutting back on staff and services, according to the association.
“Hospitals have been living on their reserves, and those reserves are nearing the end, and that’s why you are seeing more hospitals close,” Howard said, noting that a number of issues have led to the dire straits for hospitals, though all of the issues are related to low reimbursement rates one way or another.
Some Republicans have seen the negative impacts in their districts.
“We can’t continue to close rural hospitals and devastate rural Alabama with inadequate health care,” said retiring Sen. Gerald Dial, a Republican who chaired the Senate’s health committee for two years.
Earlier this year, Dial published op-eds in Alabama newspapers calling on the Republican-led Legislature to consider Medicaid expansion. He’s one of the few Republicans who has called for at least a partial expansion under revised rules.
“They can fund this,” Dial told APR. “This is so critical.”
Rural hospitals, the ones in the most danger of closing, are often the only place within a timely distance where rural residents — like those in Dial’s east Alabama district — can get care.
“It even affects the farmers,” Dial said. “If a farmer is out there, and he breaks a leg or gets an arm cut off, is he going to die before he can get 70 miles to a hospital? Or can you run him 10 miles down the road and get him to a hospital and get him some care? It affects every one of us.”
The potential for economic growth
There are some positives in the conversation. When Becker and his partner at the UAB School of Public Health released their economic analysis in 2012, they were tailoring it for a particular audience.
“We wrote this report kind of realizing the audience who would be receiving it,” Becker said in an interview. “That we kind of understand the political environment of Alabama, and tugging at the heartstrings might not be the most effective strategy in making the case for expansion.”
Their report found that expansion would cost the state about $770 million over the first seven years in costs, but could potentially result in $20 billion in economic growth over the same time period.
Beginning in 2014, the federal government would have financed 100 percent of the costs for those made newly eligible for Medicaid until 2016.
After that, the federal match phases down to 90 percent by 2020, where it will stay, meaning for every dollar the state spends on new enrollees, it would get $9 in return from the federal government.
Though Becker’s report is now six years old, the general takeaways still apply, he said. “The tax revenues generated from expansion would exceed the cost to the state, and so in that sense, it was just sort of a win-win proposition,” Becker said.
Becker’s analysis found that after the first year of expansion, Alabama could likely finance its portion of the new costs with the new tax revenues that would result. The hospital association and Dial have made similar arguments.
“We’re losing about $700 million (in federal matches) in Alabama every year because we haven’t expanded, and we continue to see our rural hospitals close,” Dial said. “That just devastates that opportunity to have economic expansion in rural areas if you don’t have adequate health care. Somebody else is getting our $700 million, and we’re not saving the taxpayers any money.”
For Howard, it isn’t just about the potential for economic growth; it’s about preventing economic losses.
“The fact is hospitals are amongst the top employers in this state. In most rural communities, they are the top employer,” Howard said. “If you look at the health care benefits alone, that ought to be enough to drive the right decision; however, it’s not been. So you have to look at the economics.”
If more hospitals close in rural areas, Howard said the economic impact could be devastating.
“Rural communities cannot continue to thrive, cannot attract businesses, can’t retain the businesses they have now with a hospital failing,” Howard said, adding that the loss of a hospital can further exacerbate population loss, too.
“Young couples are wanting to start families, and they know they are going to have to drive over an hour to a hospital when it’s time to deliver that baby, why would they stay in that community?” Howard said. “You don’t have the prospect of better-paying jobs because you can’t attract business because there’s not a viable health care system.”
But the economic arguments haven’t worked, either, and Republican leaders have pushed back against those, saying the conversation should be about the quality of health care — not job creation.
Funding problems could worsen
As legislators return to Montgomery in March, they’ll face more uncertainty.
Additional cuts to Disproportionate Share Hospital Payments — a payment mechanism that supports many hospitals with a disproportionate number of low-income, uninsured patients and uncompensated care — could go into effect on Oct. 1, 2019, when the fiscal year 2020 begins.
The bulk of those cuts have been routinely delayed by the Republican-controlled Congress since they were set to take effect in 2014 — mainly because it would negatively hit Republican, non-expansion states.
But with Democrats heading into a majority, it isn’t so certain that those cuts will be delayed again.
Cuts to DSH payments could cost Alabama hospitals between $70 million and $156 million. More than 75 percent of Alabama’s more than 100 hospitals receive DSH payments. Those cuts could severely impact both rural and urban hospitals that care for uninsured, low-income patients. Experts fear those cuts could spur a health care crisis that isn’t just confined to rural hospitals and the areas they serve.
That’s because it’s not just rural hospitals that are struggling. Some larger hospitals, including DCH Regional Medical Center in Tuscaloosa, are having issues, too, because they care for a large number of uninsured patients.
Cuts to DSH payments already implemented have cost that system $15 million since 2013, the Tuscaloosa News reported.
Hospitals like those are barely operating in the black, and it wouldn’t take much to put them in the red.
“If the state has not expanded Medicaid in 2020, as the DSH cuts are scheduled to take effect, that will close a significant number of hospitals,” Howard said. “That will cripple. That will be the straw that the hospitals can’t survive.”
Some Republican lawmakers and officials have privately expressed concern about the DSH cuts. If they’re not delayed again this year, they said, it could force the state’s hand.
No appetite for the conversation
Despite the concerns about greater cuts in funding for hospitals and the potential loss of access to comprehensive care in rural areas, Republican leaders have said publicly that there is little appetite to resume a debate about Medicaid expansion.
Gov. Kay Ivey has rejected discussion about Medicaid expansion, and Senate President Pro Tempore Del Marsh, R-Anniston, said in an interview that expansion is unlikely to be on the agenda.
“Among the Republican leadership and Republican caucus, when discussions have been made, there has been no initiative, if you will, to expand Medicaid,” Marsh said. “In fact, the position has been to control the costs of Medicaid and to put pressure on the health care community to find ways to make it more efficient.”
Marsh said perhaps every rural area doesn’t need a hospital.
“But their argument is not that our hospitals are having a hard time,” Marsh said, referring to the hospital association. “Essentially what they’re saying is that they’re having a hard time keeping the hospital the size it is and paying all of their employees. The question is, ‘Okay, is the hospital too big for the area?’”
Dial, who is leaving the Alabama Senate after more than 30 years in the chamber, said this is the year for the conversation as it’s become more and more clear that Republicans won’t be able to repeal the Affordable Care Act within a Democrat-controlled House.
“I think the possibility went from 40-60 to 60-40,” Dial said. “I think it’s a 60 percent chance (they will address expansion).”
Dial said the Legislature should consider a partial expansion that would allow the state to expand the program to a certain degree and still qualify for federal funding.
It’s already extremely difficult for anyone to qualify for Medicaid in Alabama, though the program still covers about 1 million people, most of whom are children or disabled. Virtually no childless adults are enrolled in the program.
Adults with children on Medicaid can only receive benefits if they make 18 percent of the poverty level, which is about $3,740 a year in a household of three. Medicaid expansion as outlined in the ACA would allow those making up to 138 percent of the poverty level, $16,753 for an individual and $28,676 for a household of three, to qualify for benefits
Estimates vary, but between 75,000 and 300,000 Alabamians would qualify for coverage in expansion. At least 75,000 make too much to qualify under current eligibility rules but make too little to qualify for subsidies from the federal government for marketplace programs, according to a June report from the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Some states — Arkansas, Massachusetts and Utah among them — have tried to get a waiver to limit eligibility for adults up to 100 percent of the poverty line, significantly less than the number provided in the ACA. President Donald Trump’s administration reportedly initially denied those requests, but showed some willingness to consider it after midterms and has left the door open for the future.
“We’re talking about picking and choosing different things that could help rural health care,” Dial said, “and looking at only taking those we can afford to fund on our level. I think the state from the General Fund could create anywhere from $75 million to $100 million next year to expand into that area and bring $400 million or $500 million back to the state in benefits that will equate into money for jobs, money for expansion and money for equipment.”
Medicaid is by far the largest budget item in the state’s General Fund budget, which pays for all non-education-related programs. Last year, the costs surpassed $750 million, and it’s expected to grow as lawmakers prepare the FY2020 budget, and Marsh said there isn’t room for much more spending.
Dial said he’s spoken with a number of House and Senate leaders who would be amenable to a conversation, and he thinks there could be action this year.
“It’s not going to be at the top of the agenda like probably the fuel tax, which is probably going to be the No. 1 thing now, but I think it’s going to be critical, and I think you’ll see some action this first year on it, because I think those people understand how critical it is,” Dial said.
SPLC: Ivey’s statements on absentee balloting “irresponsible”
The Southern Poverty Law Center condemned Governor Kay Ivey’s comments saying she would not advocate for “no-excuse absentee voting” during the COVID-19 outbreak, calling her comments “irresponsible.”
Currently, to receive an absentee ballot, the voter must submit a valid reason as to why they are unable or unwilling to vote at a polling place. “No-excuse” absentee voting would allow any registered voter to request an absentee without requiring that the voter state a reason for his/her desire to vote absentee.
During a conference call on Tuesday, Ivey discussed whether “no-excuse absentee voting” should be allowed amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
“At this time I would not advocate for a legislative change to allow that to happen,” Ivey said. “In a state-of-emergency the Secretary of State can adopt an emergency amend rule related to absentee voting. Anyone concerned with the virus can select a box and the box is called ‘I am ill or have an infirmity.’
“My thought is that if anyone can submit an absentee vote without a valid reason it raises the potential for voter fraud and, y’all, in the middle of a public health crisis we don’t need to open that up and add extra problems to our plate.”
Ivey announced on March 18 that the primary runoff election, which was scheduled for March 31, will be held on July 14, 2020, over concerns surrounding the health and safety of Alabamians voting during the COVID-19 pandemic. The election will include the headline race for the GOP nomination for Senate.
Nancy Abudu, deputy legal director for the SPLC, released a statement on Wednesday, saying Ivey’s lack of consideration for “no-excuse absentee voting” will leave thousands of people disenfranchised if they cannot vote by mail.
“Through a worldwide public health crisis with no clear end in site, Governor Kay Ivey and Alabama’s leaders are digging in their heels to expand voter suppression in the state in a way that will impact not only communities of color and low-income individuals, but senior citizens and those taking care of sick family members as well among those directly impacted by COVID-19. Governor Ivey’s use of the myth of voter fraud as an excuse to prevent Alabamians from having a safe way to vote by mail in future elections is irresponsible, shows a total lack of leadership on a critical issue, and will undermine our democratic process.”
“Meanwhile on the same day hours earlier, Georgia’s Secretary of State committed to sending every eligible, active voter an absentee ballot request form in the state’s rescheduled primary election. Expanding no-excuse absentee balloting, implementing early voting, and recruiting less at-risk poll workers are bare minimum policies Alabama should do to avoid electoral disasters in its primary run-off in July and in the general election in November.”
Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill said on Monday that Alabamians can vote by absentee ballot amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
“Amid coronavirus concerns, it is important to remember that Alabamians who are concerned about contracting or spreading an illness have the opportunity to avoid the polls on Election Day by casting an absentee ballot,” Merrill said in a press release Monday. “Alabamians can access the application online or by visiting or calling their local Absentee Election Manager’s office.
“Any qualified voter who determines it is impossible or unreasonable to vote at their polling place shall be eligible to check the box on the absentee ballot application that is most applicable to that individual,” the Secretary of State’s office said. “State law allows the Secretary of State to issue absentee voting guidance during declared states of emergency, allowing Secretary Merrill to encourage voters to check the box which reads as follows (in the case none of the boxes are appropriate):
“I have a physical illness or infirmity which prevents my attendance at the polls. [ID REQUIRED]”
The deadline to register to vote in the July 14 election is Monday, June 29. The deadline to submit an absentee ballot application is Thursday, July 9. The deadline to return an absentee ballot to the Absentee Election Manager is the close of business Monday, July 13. And the last day to postmark an absentee ballot is Monday, July 13.
Voters can request an absentee ballot application by calling the Secretary of State’s office at 334-242-7210.
More information on absentee ballot voting can be found on the Alabama Secretary of State website.
Gov. Ivey says no plans for statewide “shelter-in-place” order
Gov. Kay Ivey on Tuesday said there are no plans for a statewide shelter-in-place order due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have seen other states in the country doing that, as well as other countries, but however ya’ll. We are not California. We are not New York. We aren’t even Louisiana,” Ivey said on a conference call Monday. “My priority is to keep the Alabama economy going as much as possible, while we take extraordinary measures to keep everyone healthy and safe.”
The Birmingham City Council on Monday approved a shelter-in-place order to help stem the tide of new COVID-19 cases in the city. The order bans all non-essential travel. Residents can still go to their essential job, leave home for things such as groceries, gas, medicine, health care or food, and for outdoor exercise.
In a press conference Tuesday morning, Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin said 45 people who tested positive for the virus are hospitalized at UAB Medical Center in Birmingham, dozens more are under observation and at least 18 are on ventilators.
There were 242 confirmed COVID-19 cases across Alabama on Monday afternoon, although state health officials have said testing remains low in many parts of the state, so the actual spread of the virus is hard to know. The number of known new cases in Alabama has been doubling about every three days.
All Alabamians are under a statewide order that prohibits gatherings of 25 or more people, or any gathering in which people cannot keep 6 feet of distance apart from one another, but the ban doesn’t apply to workplaces.
Ivey said that she knows small businesses are “feeling the pinch” and may feel hopeless when it’s hard to see the end in sight, “but I want to echo the president who today said, quote, ‘We have to get back to work.’ We must do everything we can to keep businesses open. And if they are closed, get them back up as soon as possible.”
President Donald Trump in a press briefing Monday suggested that in a matter of “weeks” and not “months” he planned to ease federal guidelines on social distancing, which are at the heart of the government’s 15-day “slow the spread” plan.
“We can do both things,” Trump said several times during Monday’s press conference when asked if the government should focus on protecting U.S. lives and health or the economy.
Trump’s statements caused concern from health care experts and a few members of his own party, who say easing the guidelines would cause the virus to spread more quickly.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R- South Carolina, in a tweet Monday said doing so cost lives.
“Try running an economy with major hospitals overflowing, doctors and nurses forced to stop treating some because they can’t help all, and every moment of gut-wrenching medical chaos being played out in our living rooms, on TV, on social media, and shown all around the world,” Graham said in the tweet.
Asked a similar question on Tuesday, whether the state government should be focused more on stopping the spread and public health, or the economy, Ivey echoed Trump, and said both.
“The safety and well-being of Alabamians are paramount. However, I agree with President Trump, who thinks that a healthy and vital economy is just as essential to our quality of life,” Ivey said. “Manufacturers and business owners are producing the medicines, the protective health equipment and the food we need. It’s a balance and we’ve had to strike the appropriate balance as we move forward and as to appreciate the public being patient as you work through this.”
Asked if the state was considering a stimulus package similar to what the federal government is working on, Ivey again discussed getting Alabama’s economy running without barriers.
“In the past decade, we have made it a priority to not spend more than the state has collected, so the answer to this question is dependent on the economy and the economic forecasts, but there again, it’s about keeping Alabama businesses open and running,” Ivey said. “And if enact a shelter-in-place it will further impact our economy. These are things we’re all weighing out. We certainly do not have plans for shelter in place.”
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on Monday issued a stay-in-place order for “at-risk” groups, which include those living in long-term care facilities, those with some chronic illnesses, people who tested positive for the virus or were exposed to someone who has it.
Atlanta’s mayor on Monday signed a 14-day stay-at-home order for all city residents.
Ivey later in the Monday conference call cautioned Alabamians from traveling across state lines to visit family or friends, which could put them and others at risk of contracting the virus.
“We want to keep our economy moving for sure, but that means we have to take extra precautions and doing so,” Ivey said.
Alabama’s State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris was asked during Monday’s conference call whether he agrees with Trump’s statement Monday that the President thinks it will be a matter of weeks, not months before decisions are made to loosen restrictions on public life, Harris said he’s not yet sure.
“In China, for example, they’ve just begun to see improvement in the past week after something that probably appeared in December, so there’s so much unknown right now that it’s just very challenging to say,” Harris said. “But it certainly could be weeks or months, and we’ll know a little bit more when we see our state develops in the next couple of weeks. I think.”
Asked if the state was doing enough to keep people safe when it comes to closures, Harris couldn’t say.
“I certainly am not sure if we’re doing enough or if we’re doing too much when it comes to this response, because it’s just very difficult to look into the future and know what we’re going to be seeing in a few weeks,” Harris said.
“We’re certainly trying to make the best decision we can with the data we have available, and it’s possible we’ll end up looking like we didn’t do enough or it’s possible we’ll end up looking like we overreacted. And at this point, we’re doing the best we can with the information we have,” Harris said.
What he and other state officials now have is an incomplete look at the spread of COVID-19 throughout the state, due to what Harris and other state health officials have said is a deficiency in testing in many areas statewide, largely due to the state’s struggle to source enough testing supplies and personal protective equipment for staff.
No, grocery stores are not closing next week, governor’s office says
No, grocery stores in Alabama are not closing next week.
In a week of rumors surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, the latest social media hoax on Friday — that Gov. Kay Ivey would order closed all Alabama businesses, including grocery stores, next week — sent shoppers around the state cramming into supermarkets on Friday night.
Despite these rumors, the governor’s office confirmed to APR late Friday that there is zero truth to them. In fact, Ivey’s office is making plans to put more food and essentials into Alabama stores in the coming days and weeks.
“There is absolutely no truth to that,” said Ivey’s chief of staff, Jo Bonner.
Just today, the Ivey administration increased the limits on the number of shipments made to the state.
They are encouraging all Alabamians to be cautious and only go out when necessary, but the administration is not imposing any type of order on essential services or grocery store access, despite the rumors.
There are no plans to lock down completely. And there never have been. No matter what restrictions are imposed, you will still be able to go to grocery stores, Alabama State Health Officer Scott Harris and EMA director Brian Hastings said earlier this week.
Even in the places with the most extreme restrictions — like Italy, California and New York — grocery stores and other essential businesses have never been closed.
Harris and Hastings urged Alabamians not to panic buy food.
“Remember to be prepared,” Harris said. “But there’s no advantage to being over-prepared. There is no shortage of food. There’s no shortage of things other than temporarily for paper products, as we all know about but we have no concerns or issues that people won’t be able to access food if they need it. I would say in any type of closure activity throughout the world grocery stores have been exempted from that. And it would be no different, you know, in this state as well, grocery stores have to remain open because people have to be able to access that food.”
Ivey’s office encouraged citizens to stay home and as isolated as possible.
Ivey has taken a number of steps to reduce crowds, including closing public beaches and forcing restaurant dining areas to close, but there is no plan to prevent citizens from obtaining necessities.
Alabama governor announces new primary runoff election date
Gov. Kay Ivey on Wednesday said the primary runoff election, which will include the headline race for the GOP nomination for Senate, will be held on July 14, 2020, over concerns surrounding the health and safety of Alabamians voting during the COVID-19 pandemic. The primary election was scheduled for March 31.
“Exercising my extraordinary powers under the Emergency Management Act, I am setting Alabama’s Primary Runoff Election for July 14, 2020,” Ivey said. “The ability to hold free and fair elections is an inherent right as citizens of the United States and the great state of Alabama, but the safety and wellbeing of Alabama citizens is paramount.”
State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris is recommending that people should practice social distancing and refrain from public gatherings of more than 25 individuals.
Maintaining a 6-foot distance between one another is paramount.
This guidance alone would be making an election day a hotbed for spreading the virus, Ivey said.
“Persons who are 65 years or older, as well as those with previous heart and lung diseases, are more vulnerable to the Coronavirus,” Ivey said. “Knowing the average age of our faithful poll workers qualifies them to be most at-risk adds the necessity to extend the election runoff date.”
Ivey said delaying the election to July 14 is “not a decision I came to lightly, but one of careful consideration. I appreciate the guidance of Attorney General Steve Marshall and Secretary of State John H. Merrill for their collaboration to ensure the continuity of our state government.”
Attorney General Steve Marshall issued an emergency ruling Tuesday declaring Ivey had the authority to delay the runoff under the state of emergency declaration.
“Governor Ivey has the legal authority under the Alabama Emergency Management Act to declare a state of emergency as a result of the current pandemic,” Marshall said. “Accordingly, she also has the lawful ability to postpone a primary runoff election to protect public health and safety during the state of emergency.”
Upon the governor’s issuance of the amended State of Emergency proclamation rescheduling the Primary Runoff Election to be held on July 14, 2020, the Secretary of State shall give notice and provide the amended Administrative Calendar, via certified mail and email, to all applicable election officials.
“I am grateful to Governor Ivey and General Marshall for their proactive leadership, sincere dedication, and spirit of teamwork displayed during these trying times,” said Secretary of State John H. Merrill. “It is critical that we provide a safe and secure environment for all 3,585,209 voters in the State of Alabama to participate in the electoral process.”
The Secretary of State is encouraging anyone who is concerned about contracting the virus or spreading the illness may vote by absentee. For information regarding voter registration, locating a polling place, or how to obtain an absentee ballot, please contact the Secretary of State’s website.
Jeff Sessions issued the following statement:
“I know that Governor Ivey has considered the health of Alabamians and that she has focused on their best interests in making her decision. The safety and health of Alabamians must take precedence.
“I am confident that Secretary of State John Merrill and Circuit Clerks across the state, in consultation with public health officials, will work hard to ensure a safe and orderly runoff election on July 14th. It is important that every voter’s voice has a fair chance to be heard, whether the vote is cast via an absentee ballot, or at the ballot box on election day.
“We intend to maintain our vigorous campaign up until the last day, even as we are careful to do so in a manner that puts the health and safety of the public first.
“It will be very difficult for Tommy Tuberville to hide from debates for four months. He will have to conquer his fears, and face me and the voters.”
Alabama Republican Party Chair Terry Lathan issued the following statement:
“This morning Governor Kay Ivey, Attorney General Steve Marshall and Secretary of State John Merrill announced that the Alabama primary runoff elections will be held on Tuesday, July 14, 2020. With the uncertainty surrounding the Coronavirus as it moves across our nation and confirmed cases in Alabama continue to increase, we support the administration’s prudent measures and decisions to protect Alabamians. While these are concerning and unknown times, we appreciate our leaders implementing a safe atmosphere for our probate and election officials, poll workers, campaigns, candidates and voters. The old saying ‘better safe than sorry’ is truly applicable in these unknown circumstances.
“We ask all to be in deep prayer for our president, state leaders, candidates, their families and our fellow citizens. We also lift up our health care workers, first responders and those who keep our nation and state safe. This opportunity of working together will showcase our great state’s resilience with a focus on our fellow Alabamians’ safety and health.
“Americans are tenacious and tough people who have risen to many trying times and we have no doubt that we will all rise together again in this chapter of our nation’s and state’s history.”
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