No state is a governmental panacea. Perfection doesn’t exist. But as much as we love our home, America’s Southern states continually run head-first into the walls that impede their progress. It is, sadly, our history.
We have no one to blame but ourselves, especially in Alabama.
It is here, in Anniston, where administrators at Regional Medical Center say Gov. Robert Bentley’s refusal to expand Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act is costing the hospital millions in revenue. CEO David McCormack told The Star that RMC and its Jacksonville hospital have lost $1.2 million in revenue already this year and is likely to lose more than that next year because the state, unlike so many others, hasn’t expanded Medicaid and is suffering from reduced reimbursements. RMC is providing more uncompensated care this year, McCormack said, which is doubly problematic when paired with the reduced federal reimbursements.
The governor — who won the Republican Party nomination in Tuesday’s primary elections — is a virtual lock for a second term despite his indefensible decision to put small-government ideology over the health and welfare of thousands of Alabama residents.
It is a shameful, if not fateful, situation.
Rosemary Blackmon, vice president of the Alabama Hospital Association, confirms that hospitals are struggling with all sorts of financial problems in the years since the Great Recession. “Medicaid expansion,” she said, “would be a welcome help for that.”
Meanwhile, Alabama’s governor looks at the uninsured and hospitals like RMC and seemingly shrugs, “Deal with it.”
It’s obvious who is to blame. Not so obvious is how the South can escape from this recurring and regrettable problem.