The Covid relief act (American Rescue Plan Act) that was signed into law in March of this year provides new incentives for states to expand Medicaid. Thanks to this law, if Alabama expanded Medicaid the state would get an estimated $940 million boost in federal Medicaid funds over two years.
This is enough money to fully fund Alabama’s share of the cost of Medicaid expansion for many years to come. Medicaid expansion became available in 2014, but Governor Ivey and legislative leaders have said that the barrier to expanding Medicaid is the cost. Thanks to the enhanced federal funding, Alabama will now have the money to cover the cost of expansion. This is an offer we cannot and should not refuse.
Recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic will require Alabama to reinvigorate our public health system. Medicaid is a health lifeline for one in four Alabamians and an economic engine for communities across our state. As we struggle with the COVID-19 pandemic, extending Medicaid coverage to adults with low incomes is the single biggest step Alabama can take to restore health, save our rural hospitals and boost economic recovery.
Medicaid expansion would ensure coverage for more than 300,000 Alabamians including an additional 5,000 veterans who cannot afford health insurance and do not live close enough to veteran’s hospitals to receive proper medical attention.
Additionally, one of the most important but little discussed benefits of Medicaid expansion is the benefit to rural hospitals, including Dekalb County Medical Center.
Rural hospitals are always under the threat of closure due to financial strains, but even more so as a result of the pandemic. Studies have found that Medicaid expansion greatly improves financial performance of hospitals, especially in rural markets.
This decision is in the hands of Governor Kay Ivey and our elected representatives in Montgomery. It is not a partisan issue. It is a common sense issue. With the stroke of a pen, Governor Ivey could save billions of dollars and thousands of lives in Alabama.
This is an offer we cannot refuse.
Please contact Governor Ivey and encourage her to approve this much needed action.
Tobey Miller, Fort Payne, Alabama
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