State Sen. Jabo Waggoner: ‘We’re going to take a lot closer look’ at Medicaid expansion this year
In the past, most Republican lawmakers have rejected the idea of expanding Medicaid, citing future costs as the reason for doing so.
However, one veteran GOP lawmaker is sending a different message with this year’s legislative session set to start in just over a month.
In an interview with ABC 33/40, Sen. Jabo Waggoner (R-Vestavia Hills) predicted the legislature would take a “closer look” at proposals to expand Medicaid rolls.
“We’ve got to find a way to keep these rural hospitals open and Medicaid is probably the answer to it,” Waggoner told ABC 33/40’s Lauren Walsh in an interview that aired Friday. “So I think we’re going to take a lot closer look at the Medicaid issue this year, expansion Medicaid, than in times past.”
“I think the legislature has got to look out with a very serious eye this fiscal year, or this legislative season,” he added.
Waggoner went on to add if the legislature doesn’t move on Medicaid expansion, more rural hospitals could close.
Days before the 2018 general election, Alabama Senate Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) rejected overtures for Medicaid expansion.
“I can tell you – we have got a Republican-controlled legislature and they have no appetite to expand Medicaid,” Marsh said in a November 3, 2018 interview with Mobile’s FMTalk 106.5. “Medicaid already gets the bulk of the budget that we have discretion over. We’re trying to control costs. We’re doing a pretty good job with that. We’re going to continue to try to control those costs, and until we get those costs under control, we are not going to expand it.”
In a statement given to ABC 33/40, Gov. Kay Ivey didn’t reject the possibility of Medicaid expansion. However, she did not endorse it, either.
“Before any decisions are made regarding additional services or adding people into the Medicaid program, we must weigh what is most beneficial for the people of Alabama and for the state as a whole. Adequate funding must be ensured to continue providing our current level of services,” Ivey said.
At a campaign event days before the election in Fairhope, Ivey outright rejected her 2018 Democratic Party opponent’s proposal for Medicaid expansion, calling it “misguided.”