Capitol Report for April 22, 2013Published 6:04am Wednesday, April 24, 2013
By: Sen. Roger Bedford
This past week I called on the Republican Supermajority to once again bring forth the Medicaid Expansion Bill so that we may have an opportunity to vote on it. All eleven senate democrats endorsed a Bill and a Resolution to enact the Medicaid roll out that is available to us from the Federal Government.
This is a tremendous opportunity to provide health care coverage to 350,000 Alabamians. Not only will this improve the quality of our life here in our great state but it is also a tremendous economic development tool.
As you may know 38 percent of all the children in Alabama are currently getting their primary healthcare from Medicaid. 78 percent of all nursing home beds are paid for with Medicaid dollars.
This roll out is available from the Federal Government at no cost to the State. That’s correct; the Federal Government will pay 100 percent of the cost the first three years. It would also create a huge economic development opportunity for Alabama, especially in our rural areas.
The people that would be covered by this Medicaid roll out are by in large what’s known as the working poor. They are working for minimum wage andor up to $11 or $12 dollars an hour. These people are working and paying taxes but have no health coverage because it is not offered at their place of employment or they simply cannot afford it in a private market place.
So for the first three years beginning in 2014 the Federal Government would pay 100 percent of the cost. After that, the State would begin to shoulder some of the cost starting at 5 percent in 2017 and capping at 10 percent in 2020. The Federal Government will then continue to pay 90 percent of the cost with the State of Alabama only having to pay 10 percent.
In other words, Alabama would reap a 9 to 1 Federal match. This would provide health care to cover an additional 7 percent of our population.
The Henry Kiser Family Foundation estimated the expansion would bring $10 billion in new federal health care money to Alabama from 2014 to 2019. The State’s cost to get these dollars would be approximately $582 million. That is like investing $500 dollars and getting back $10,000.
Unfortunately the Republican leadership is scared that the right way tea party crowd will attack them in their primaries. Governor Bentley has even told me that no one will get to the right of him on Obama Care.
Well this is not Obama Care, this is a Medicaid roll out this is greatly needed in our State. It is estimated that it will create 10,000 new jobs in Alabama.
While we are talking about the economic impact on our State, imagine having 350,000 new customers for our rural hospitals, doctors, pharmacist, dentist and on down the line. It is estimated that this could have $20 billion dollar positive impact on the economy in Alabama. It is the right thing to do, and it should be done.
This past week was also the opening of college football, my wife Maudie and I had the pleasure of going down to Tuscaloosa to watch the Alabama A-Day Game. Coach Nick Saban continues to reload the Tide with quality players.
It is my hope that Auburn will also have a better season this year under their new coach. We are blessed to have so many talented athletic teams in our state, a state that has a rich tradition of excellence in not only academics, but in athletics as well.
This past week I passed in the Alabama Senate an expungement bill for Alabama. We are one of the few states in the nation where if you are charged with a crime and found not guilty, or it is dismissed, it still remains on your record. I’ve been contacted by numerous individuals in our Senate District that have applied for coaching jobs, nursing school and other professional departments, and have been turned down because their record shows they were charged with a crime; even if they were found not guilty andor it was dismissed. Therefore with strong bipartisan support I passed the Bill in the Senate, which will say if you are found not guilty, your case was dismissed, that the charge can be erased from your record by petitioning the Court.
If you have been convicted of a crime, this Bill would not apply in that case.
I’m glad to see the progress being made on our State highways and County roads. We have been fortunate through ATRIP and the RAMP Program to provide State dollars to our Counties to repair bridges and major roads. While I know that it is an inconvenience at times to go around the highway construction projects, they mean not only safer highways but more jobs in Alabama.
It is always a pleasure so many of our trees and flowers starting to bloom. I was surprised by the weather turning cold as we entered the weekend but I always enjoy the spring.
I hope you are having an opportunity to visit with your family and friends and enjoy the fine spring weather.
Let me thank all of you for the many cards, letters, phone calls and e-mails I’ve gotten regarding your views on the issues facing us here in Alabama. Please continue to contact me at the following address:
Roger H. Bedford, Jr.
Alabama State House
11 S. Union Street, Suite 738
Montgomery, Alabama 36130
Phone 334-242-7862, Fax 334-242-9202
P.O. Box 370
Russellville, Alabama 35653
Phone 256-332-6966 Fax 256-332-6967
Roger Bedford is a state senator for Franklin County.