Fri May 27 07:26:28 PDT 2016
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Clouse: 15 million ways to look at things
Ken Curtis

Rep. Steve Clouse is not overly emotional, at least not in public, if at all. His calm, even-tempered demeanor—among other things--makes him one of the most respected lawmakers in the state. However, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee says what he thinks. These days, he’s thinking about Medicaid funding. The healthcare agency wants $85-million more than the $15-million funding increase already approved by the legislature. Clouse, last Friday, wondered aloud about what $15-million can do. Attending the inauguration of a Pre-K classroom at Faine Elementary School in Dothan, Clouse talked about it and it was necessarily kind toward the Medicaid agency. “We give approximately $15-million more to Pre-K and they’re having a celebration here but we allocate $15-million more to Medicaid and they’re talking about devastation. Somewhere things just don’t add up,” he said. Clouse will co-chair a committee that begins meetings Wednesday on how to find more dollars for Medicaid. He doesn’t talk with confidence about the possibilities. Clouse said well before the session began in early February there is no more money. Apparently, others weren’t listening. The agency has already been awarded $700-million from the general fund in FY-2017. That’s 39 percent of the overall budget. Almost four of every non education appropriated dollars will go to Medicaid. The agency wants that upped to 44 dollars. That’s nearly half. Governor Bentley, who has his own issues these days, is trying to pressure lawmakers to find dollars for Medicaid. However, his clout in Montgomery is all be evaporated. Others will tell the committee that healthcare for many Alabamians will be jeopardized if more money isn’t found. No matter how intense the pressure one thing is for sure---Clouse won't blow a gasket though, after listening to more healthcare cut threats, he might have 15-million reasons to do so.

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