Should Alabama expand Medicaid coverage?

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT)– Alabama is one of 14 states that have not expanded Medicaid. Rep. Terri Sewell said Medicaid expansion is needed in Alabama now more than ever as the coronavirus pandemic enters into its third month.

In a conversation with state health officer Scott Harris, Sewell said expanding could save lives.

“It’s always a good time to expand Medicaid, but when you’re in the middle of a pandemic, and this pandemic has caused a public health crisis, access to quality healthcare is critically important,” said Sewell.

There has been a renewed push for states to raise income limits to allow more people to qualify for coverage. In April, Gov. Kay Ivey said the decision comes down to funding.

“Certainly we are concerned about the health and welfare of our citizens, wherever they may live. At the same time, it’d be irresponsible to think about expanding Medicaid just for the sake of expanding Medicaid without having a complete and honest discussion about the source of stable funding to pay the match,” said Gov. Ivy.

When asked if the state will explore that funding, the governor skirted the question and said the focus is getting people healthy.

State Representative Neil Rafferty said expanding is how you get the state healthy.

“I think the best way we can protest Alabamians would be to expand Medicaid since there’s been 500k jobless claims here in the state of Alabama alone since March,” said Rafferty.

90% of expansion costs would be paid by the federal government. The state’s share is estimated to be $250 million. For a qualified individual to be covered by medicaid in Alabama now, they must make less than $1,500 a month, which breaks down to about $9 an hour.


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