GOP fails to offer true Medicaid solutionsPublished 11:06pm Monday, May 7, 2012
Over a million Alabamians are eligible for Medicaid – that is one out of every five people in our state! Forty-three percent of all children in Alabama are eligible for Medicaid. Medicaid is a vital source for healthcare in our state. For hundreds of thousands of Alabamians, Medicaid is their only source of healthcare. Elderly patients rely on Medicaid to pay for their nursing homes or home health care. Thousands of pregnant women in Alabama would have no prenatal care at all were it not for Medicaid.
We are now in the 11th hour of this year’s legislative session, and the Republican Supermajority that controls our state government has failed to offer a solution to the Medicaid crisis. As of today, the Republican-dominated Legislature has failed to pass a General Fund Budget in the Senate or an Education Trust Fund (ETF) Budget in the House of Representatives, while the only solution Gov. Robert Bentley has offered, would raid up to $200 million from the Education Trust Fund.
Waiting for the Republican Supermajority to lead is no longer an option. That is why Democrats in the Alabama House and Senate are stepping up with a plan to save the state’s General Fund budget, rescue Medicaid and ensure that the quality of our children’s education does not suffer from additional layoffs of educators.
Last week, House and Senate Democrats proposed a budgetary plan that will save our state’s Medicaid program without raiding the Education Trust Fund. This plan will also protect the corpus of the Alabama Trust Fund, and does all of this without raising a single tax or fee.
The Bedford-Ford plan, named after the Democratic leaders who wrote the plan, modifies the Canfield Rolling Reserve Act so that it will not go into effect until state revenues reach the level that they were in fiscal year 2008. The Bedford-Ford plan also allows the voters of Alabama to decide if future deposits into the Alabama Trust Fund can be used to pay for vital state services into the future.
This plan would go much further than what the governor has proposed, and would forgive the debt that the Education Trust Fund owes the Alabama Trust Fund (ATF).
To pass this budget, we will need bipartisan support. It is our hope that the Republican Supermajority will put the people of Alabama before their party bosses and support this plan. We cannot afford these massive cuts to Medicaid and the General Fund.