Alabama's September 18th Referendum Vote Could Have Drastic Effects on Medicaid


By Tamika Bickham

Next Tuesday, Alabama voters will decide whether the state can use $437 million from a trust fund to help the ailing general fund budget for three years. But some fear a 'no' vote will hurt those most in need of government help.

Susan Wright put her father, W.D. Hatfield, in a nursing home two and a half years ago.

"My father worked all his life. He was working when he entered Crowne. He was working until he was 91 and a half. He deserves some help now," said Wright.

Constant care and costly equipment, like what they have at Crowne Health Care and Rehab, don't come cheap.

"I just know having had a parent, my mom and my dad in a nursing home, or in nursing homes for ten and a half years, that it is a financial strain on the family," she said.

So some of her father's care costs come from Medicaid.

"Seventy percent of my residents are Medicaid residents. If I take a 17 percent cut in reimbursement, what will happen to those residents?" asked Crowne's administrator, Wanda Allie.

A 17 percent cut to Medicaid reimbursement is what Allie is expecting if the constitutional amendment doesn't pass next Tuesday's vote. The amendment would allow the state to borrow $150 million per year over a three year period from a trust fund to the general fund budget in order to avoid cuts. If not passed?

"What will it affect? Will you have to take your loved one home because Medicaid says 'oh you are no longer eligible for nursing home Medicaid?'"asked Allie.

"There is just no way we could take care of him on our own. We wish we could, but we just can't do it," said Wright.

While the uncertainly haunts both families and administrators, for now they say there is no solution they can find.

"We do not have plan b if this fails. We do not have another option," said Allie.

Federal dollars at stake here as well. For every one dollar the state provides for Medicaid, the federal government provides more than two.

Critics disagree with "borrowing" money from a trust fund they say will never be paid back.

Voters will head to the polls on this issue next Tuesday.