Local Democrats to Push Governor for Medicaid Expansion

Local Democrats to Push Governor for Medicaid Expansion

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On the eve of the 2014 Legislative Session, two top Democrats from the Mobile area say the General Fund is in crisis, in part, due to Governor Robert Bentley’s refusal to expand Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

It’s billions of dollars that the state is losing out on,” said Rep. James Buskey, D-Prichard. “And each year, or quarter, that we don’t participate, the state will lose those funds.”

Senate counterpart Vivian Davis Figures agrees with Buskey.

“That could have helped with a lot of the problems we’re having now with revenue because it would have brought in millions of dollars for our economy,” said Figures. “It was like it was a no brainer.”

Democrats will push this session to expand Medicaid but they face an uphill battle. Governor Bentley has been unwavering in his position, saying he won’t expand an entitlement program and that the state won’t be able to afford Medicaid expansion when it has to begin assuming 10% cost of the program in 2020.

Supporters of expanding Medicaid say it would provide health coverage for approximately 300,000 Alabamians, and would create 30,000 new jobs. Democratic leaders say the Governor’s stance is purely political.

“That’s what’s called cutting off your nose to spite your face,” said Figures. “There are so many people who will be helped by this.”

Of the 25 states that have not expanded Medicaid, all but two voted for Republican Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election. Despite the partisan nature of the debate in Alabama, and across the country, Democrats in Montgomery remain optimistic.

“Hopefully those of us who think alike will be able to prevail upon him and hopefully we can get consideration for expanding Medicaid for the people of Alabama,” said Buskey.

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