Editorial: Truth about Medicaid expansion — More proof that Gov. Bentley is ‘out of step’ in Alabama
by The Anniston Star Editorial Board
May 22, 2013 | 4545 views |  0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
As a physician and Alabama’s governor, Robert Bentley shouldn’t need a reminder about how important Medicaid is to the state’s residents.

Or does he?

Bentley, after all, has drawn a line in the sand and vowed not to expand Medicaid coverage in the state as part of the Affordable Care Act, which the governor once described as the “worst piece of legislation” to ever come out of Washington.

Never mind, as Sen. Hank Sanders, D-Selma, wrote in The Star earlier this month, that Medicaid expansion would cover an additional 250,000 to 300,000 Alabamians.

Never mind that the federal government would pick up the tab for nearly all expanded coverage for a handsome number of years.

Never mind that Medicaid expansion would greatly reduce the number of uninsured Alabamians.

And never mind that more than half of Alabamians surveyed in a recent poll favor Medicaid expansion.

We’ve heard the governor’s party-line complaints about the ACA. Yet, we ask the governor, are you really going to say no to something so beneficial to your state’s low-income and needy residents?

This week, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a research and public-policy think tank, released polling data that show that 62 percent of residents in five Deep South states — Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana and South Carolina — favor Medicaid expansion. That’s hard to ignore.

Here’s what Bentley should consider: Though more polled Alabamians (41 percent to 35 percent) had an unfavorable overall view of the Affordable Care Act, 64 percent supported Medicaid expansion, 77 percent supported health exchanges to shop for insurance and 70 percent supported tax credits for the uninsured to buy health insurance.

Those numbers were solid in all categories in those five Deep South states. More than 50 percent of their polled residents supported Medicaid expansion.

Yet, those states’ governors — all Republicans, like Bentley — are married to rigid, anti-President Obama ideology and are refusing the federal government’s help to expand Medicaid.

That a majority of their states’ residents disagree with them means little.

Brian Smedley, the director of the Joint Center think tank, told McClatchy Newspapers that those who are blocking Medicaid expansion “are out of step with their constituents.”

The truth hurts, Gov. Bentley.
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