Gov. Scott recently changed his position and now supports the Medicaid expansion under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act for the state of Florida. He changed after the federal government assured Florida a waiver to begin a managed-care approach to the program, but more important, he recognizes that “the Supreme Court upheld the law and the president got re-elected. Because of that you have to say, what’s in the best interest of my citizens?”
Gov. Robert Bentley and the people of Alabama could greatly benefit from that kind of thinking. As Billy Beasley, a rural pharmacist and state senator from Clayton, recently pointed out in The Star, the expansion of Medicaid in Alabama will mostly cover those who work hard and pay their taxes, but are not provided insurance through their jobs and cannot afford to buy single-policy coverage. Yet, Bentley seems intent on turning his back on more than $11 billion from the federal government between now and 2020.
The federal government would cover 100 percent of health-care expenditures from 2014 through 2016. The federal portion will decline after 2016, falling gradually to 90 percent in 2020. This will result in a state cost of $39 million in 2014 on up to $222 million in 2020 with the total cost to the state during the period of $771 million. But the federal expenditure over this same period will exceed $11 billion, with these “new dollars” going to doctors and hospital employees, pharmacists and other health-care workers who will in turn spend them in normal economic activity thereby generating tax revenue to the state of more than $1 billion. If one takes the long, and I might add, the considered view, the economics work out in favor of the Alabama state budget. Said another way, we can afford it.
Gov. Bentley, take a cue from your fellow Republican governor of Florida. It is not necessary to agree with the provisions of a national law. But when it becomes the law of the land, supported by the political system, then a governor’s responsibility is to determine how to apply the law in the best interest of the residents of his or her state. Governor, it is time for you to act responsibly.