During an appearance on Huntsville radio’s WVNN on Thursday, Sen. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook) offered his thoughts on rumblings that policymakers in Montgomery were considering expanding Medicaid rolls.
The renewed discussion comes in the wake of Butler County’s Georgiana losing its hospital and some GOP lawmakers in the statehouse suggesting it was something to consider.
According to Jones, the expansion of Medicaid would be one of the ingredients necessary in ensuring rural hospitals in Alabama are sustainable.
“I think it would go a long way,” Jones said on “The Jeff Poor Show.” “There are a lot of factors that come into play when you’re talking about rural hospitals, including the wage index that we try to get things changed, so we get the same reimbursements as other states. But I think expansion of Medicaid would be a big help. I think it would be a huge deal for rural hospitals. It would bring in billions of dollars – billions of dollars that’s our money, by the way, that we haven’t been getting since the state refused to do that. And candidly, it was a political decision when they refused to do it. Everybody knows that. There was a legitimate concern about the cost.”
“But now that we look back, we can see that the cost-benefit – the benefit outweighs the cost tremendously,” he continued. “Plus the benefit with the good health outcomes – more people with good health care, better health outcomes. It’s just a win-win. And so I am hoping this year they can do that.”
Jones said he and Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) were working on legislation to gives states that have not yet expanded Medicaid the incentive to do so, and that way the “money would start flowing in.”
When asked about the possibility of the state of Alabama being on the hook for extra cost when that initial infusion of federal money runs out, the Jefferson County Democrat said he expected the money to continue to be there for Medicaid.
“I don’t think the money will run out,” he replied. “I think the money is here to stay. It is one of those things that passed in the ‘60s. It is here to stay. I think the money is going to continue to be there. And the fact of the matter is, no one would get left holding the bag because if the Medicaid money went away, then obviously the insurance goes away. I don’t think anybody’s going to want to let that happen.”
When asked about lawmakers considering the possibility, Jones described his attitude as “hopeful.”
“I am very hopeful,” Jones said. “I think there’s a couple of dynamics in play, including the fact that we’re not really talking about ObamaCare anymore. We’re talking about the Affordable Care Act, and we’re talking about things – keeping people with preexisting conditions and making sure they have health care. And the other thing, too – now we have the evidence. No one can really say, ‘Oh, this is going to cost too much. We can’t afford it.’ We got the evidence from all the states to show that is just not the case and we’re losing out on billions of dollars that come in, and that’s billions of dollars the state of Alabama damn sure could use.”
@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV and host of “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN in Huntsville.