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Daniels: Dems to ‘educate’ public on Medicaid expansion

The Alabama House Democratic Caucus will make its case for Medicaid expansion during the upcoming legislative session, according to Minority Leader Anthony Daniels (D-Huntsville).

The issue of expanding Medicaid has long been an item of importance to the Legislature’s minority party. Accomplishing this, however, has proven to be a daunting task given the supermajority Republicans enjoy in both chambers.

During a recent appearance on Alabama Public Television’s “Capitol Journal,” Daniels provided a glimpse into what his caucus would seek to legislatively address in the coming months. Atop the list of these items, according to Daniels, will be expanding access to the public health insurance program.

The North Alabama lawmaker said Democrats would seek to “educate the electorate” on what Medicaid expansion “is and what it’s not.”

“I think there’s been a significant misunderstanding as to what Medicaid expansion is,” said Daniels. “We’ve allowed it to become more partisan in nature instead of looking at it, dealing with it on its merits and its facts versus the boogeyman approach of demonizing it because it was part of a previous administration.”

Daniels insisted that expanding access to the program would benefit the Yellowhammer State’s small business community.

“And so health care is one of the major issues for us, expanding access to quality health care, especially in our rural communities and underserved urban communities,” he said. “This will also lend support to small businesses in the state of Alabama and give them some relief. But the misunderstanding about expansion of Medicaid is that it’s a working class Medicaid program. It’s health care for individuals that are working. And so I think that’s something that folks really don’t understand.”

Studies show that, as of May 2021, there were 1,034,994 Alabamians covered by Medicaid. If the state opted to expand, this number would increase by an estimated 340,000.

“The other piece” of expansion, according to Daniels, is creating “a healthier Alabama.”

“Nutritionists and dietitians are not being reimbursed from a Medicaid standpoint. We want to fight to get reimbursement for dietitians and nutritionists,” he said. “If we’re going to be focused on the preventative side of health care then those should be items that should be reimbursable — that way we’re creating a healthier Alabama and focusing more on the preventative side.

“[W]e’ll start seeing the fruits of those investments long term. So those are some of the things we’re interested in.”

Dylan Smith is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL

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