Senate Democrats Call on Gov. Bentley to Expand Medicaid in Alabama
Democrats in the Alabama Senate are calling on Governor Robert Bentley to expand Medicaid.
Today, they unveiled a bill that would force the state to expand the program under the federal Affordable Care Act.
Right now, the state's Medicaid program covers just under a million people who are at or below the poverty level.
Senator Bobby Singleton of Greensboro says the expansion would add 300,000 more people.
"There are a lot of families, families who are not working, and the only medical card in their pocket is a Medicaid card," he says.
Among the critics is Governor Bentley. He says the program cannot be expanded in its current condition, because he says it's already the single most expensive item in the general fund budget.
Republican Senator Dick Brewbaker of Montgomery agrees. He says the program needs to be fixed before it is expanded.
"I wasn't shocked that Democrats have decided to buy 100 percent into Obamacare, but they're wrong about it. Governor Bentley is right," Brewbaker says.
Singleton says federal funds will cover the expansion of the program for the first three years, and after that, they'll cover 90 percent.
"We look at the fact that Medicaid under the federal program will allow us some $20 billion in economic impact in the state," Singleton says. "It will expand to doctors and to pharmacists. Business expansion would be amazing if this governor would just go on and expand it."
Keep in mind, Republicans hold the majority in both the Senate and the House, so it would take a lot of lawmakers to cross party lines for this to pass.
Lawmakers have said they will consider some sort of Medicaid reform this year.