More than 300 doctors, nurses, psychologists, dentists and other medical professionals signed a letter released on Wednesday that called on Gov. Kay Ivey and the state Legislature to expand Medicaid to include 300,000 adults who live on low incomes.
“Because they are just one medical emergency away from financial ruin, many of them regularly delay treatment and skip preventive care and screenings,” the letter stated. “By the time we see them in an urgent care center or emergency room, their illness has progressed to a point in which their treatment options have become more expensive, invasive, and less successful.”
It noted that during the “greatest public health crisis in more than a century,” these Alabamians — many of whom are caregivers or essential workers — earn too much to qualify for Medicaid under Alabama’s current cutoff but too little to qualify for subsidized plans made available by the Affordable Care Act.
Dr. Aruna Arora, incoming president of the Medical Association of the State of Alabama, praised Ivey’s stewardship of the state through the pandemic, but added that COVID-19 made the state’s “vast health inequities” more visible.
“We have the ability to correct this,” she said. “But we, as physicians, cannot do it alone.”
The letter was organized by Jane Adams, director of Alabama Arise’s Cover Alabama campaign. She said Medicaid expansion is the best thing Ivey can do to ensure that the state’s health care system emerges from the pandemic stronger than it was before.
COVID-19 has killed 10,652 Alabamians, with 14 new deaths reported Wednesday. There are 314 people hospitalized with the disease. 1,530 new cases have been recorded so far in April. More than 320,000 people in the state have recovered from the disease.
The Cover Alabama Coalition issued a statement saying federal relief money can help pay for an expansion: “Alabama is one of only 12 states that have not yet expanded Medicaid. The new American Rescue Plan Act signed into law by President Joe Biden last month includes a provision that would give a boost of federal dollars to holdout states that expand coverage. Estimates show that the new federal incentive could mean hundreds of millions of dollars of new federal funds for Alabama Medicaid over two years. That amount would more than offset the initial costs of expansion.”