State Sen. Jabo Waggoner: ‘I did not endorse expanding Medicaid’
During an appearance on Alabama Public Television’s “Capitol Journal” on Friday, State Sen. Jabo Waggoner (R-Vestavia Hills) elaborated on his call a week earlier for lawmakers in Montgomery to consider how to expand Medicaid rolls in this year’s upcoming legislative session.
In an interview that aired last Saturday, Waggoner told ABC 33/40’s Lauren Walsh the legislature needed to take “a closer look” at Medicaid expansion.
However, Waggoner explained that it was not an endorsement of that policy.
“I think it is an issue we need to talk about, look at, discuss because I fear in this state you’re going to have multiple closings in rural hospitals,” Waggoner said. “And that’s an issue that we cannot allow. And my only statement was it is something we need to look at. Our general fund budget is right at $2 billion. Seven-hundred million [dollars] of that $2 billion goes to Medicaid. Our population in Alabama is right at 4.8 million people. Over a million of those people are on Medicaid. Medicaid is a huge draw on our general fund budget. If we take on additional Medicaid, we’re talking about $168 million more.”
“I don’t know if the state can afford that,” he added. “All I’m saying is to prevent the closing of rural hospitals we need to study this. We need to take a look at it. I did not endorse expanding Medicaid. I just simply said it is something we need to study. We need to look at. We need to evaluate it. We need to decide if we’re going to allow these rural hospital closing, or are we going to try to keep them open. That’s what I’m interested in — is rural health care. And to have rural hospitals, health care — you’re going to have to have Medicaid. And right now, the $700 million that is going to Medicaid will not keep all of these rural hospitals open. That’s my concern. It’s something we need to look at and study and see if we can afford it.”