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Speaker Ledbetter on fixing healthcare coverage gap: ‘We’ve got to have the conversation’

Alabama Speaker of the House Nathaniel Ledbetter expects the Alabama Legislature to address the issue of the thousands of people in the state who currently don’t have health insurance.

“I think it’s just at the conversation stage,” Ledbetter (R-Rainsville) told Alabama Public Television. “You know the problem that we’ve got right now, we’ve got so many hospitals that are in dire straits. We’ve got to have the conversation. We cannot not have it.”

Alabama is one of 10 states that has not expanded Medicaid, which means adults with qualifying children must make no more than 18% above the poverty line to qualify for Medicaid.

This has resulted in thousands of Alabamians stuck in a “coverage gap” where finding a job means losing their coverage.

Ledbetter believes there might be some options for lawmakers to fix this coverage gap without having to expand Medicaid in Alabama.

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“I think we’ll continue to work on the public-private partnerships,” he explained. “Certainly that’s something we need to look at. I think it gives the people that’s in the gap better insurance than Medicaid and maybe also helps keep some people on the rolls that wouldn’t have to come off as far as being on commercial insurance already.”

The Speaker also spoke to the Montgomery Chamber of Commerce this week and said one of his top priorities this upcoming session will be getting more Alabamians back in the workforce.

“Even though unemployment is low, we’ve got 43% of the people that’s working age in our state that does not have a job,” he said. “Now I’m not blaming that on anyone. I’m not going to say, ‘Well they just need to find a job, there’s plenty of jobs out there.’ There’s a lot of issues that goes with that.”

Yaffee is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts “The Yaffee Program” weekdays 9-11 a.m. on WVNN. You can follow him on Twitter @Yaffee

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