Alabama organizations gather in Birmingham pleading with Gov. Ivey and lawmakers to expand Medicaid
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Organizations from all over Alabama met in Birmingham on September 8, pleading with the governor and lawmakers to expand Medicaid.
Alabama is one of 12 states that has not expanded Medicaid and these organizations said the money to fund the program is on the table, so they can’t understand why the governor won’t work to expand the coverage.
“We have over 200,000 people who are working, but not making enough money to pay for insurance on the Affordable Care Act marketplace, but they’re not poor enough to qualify for Medicaid.”
John Zippert is the Chair of the Board of the Greene County Health System.
He says Alabamians who fall in this gap don’t have insurance, so they’re reluctant to go to the doctor simply because they can’t afford to go.
“Then they get very sick, and they present in the emergency room too sick to be helped. Medicaid expansion would provide a way for those 200,000 people to have basic medical insurance,” Zippert explained.
Zippert represents one of more than a dozen Alabama organizations that gathered at Memorial Park Thursday pleading with Gov. Ivey and lawmakers to expand Medicaid.
They said it’s a dire need for many Alabamians and they want the governor to put people above politics.
“This is not a Black, white, Democrat, or Republican issue. This is a healthcare, human rights issue,” said LeDarius Hilliard with the Birmingham Urban League.
The Affordable Care Act, known to many as “Obamacare,” called for Medicaid expansion nationwide.
But back in 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that states can’t be forced to expand their Medicaid program and can now decide if they want to participate.
Alabama is one of 12 states that opted out.
“This is a pro-life issue, Ms. Governor. If you’re truly pro-life, then act you’re pro-life and sign this bill,” said Fya Toure with the Alabama New South Coalition.
These organizations said federal money to pay for most of the program is on the table, but the governor said Alabama can’t afford it.
“Certainly, everybody deserves quality healthcare, but the state can’t afford to expand Medicaid because how do we…well it’s a worthy program, how do we pay for it long-term?” Gov. Ivey said.
The federal government covers 90% of the cost to expand Medicaid, with states paying the other 10%.
A recent poll shows more than seven in 10 Alabama voters support expanding Medicaid to increase access to healthcare.
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