Governor Bentley very much wants us to know how he feels about Medicaid. About once a month he mentions his deeply held beliefs to the press. This month’s offerings (courtesy of al.com) was about the UA economic study that predicted Medicaid expansion would give us 30,000 jobs with no state investment needed:
“Because the studies are all bogus,” Bentley said. “The jobs are already there. You’re not creating new jobs. You’re not creating new people by bringing this money in. You have the doctors are already there. The nurses are already there. You don’t produce a new doctor in a year. I went to school 24 years to become a doctor. You don’t produce these type people immediately.”
I could point out that some jobs will definitely go away if the rural hospitals close. This is almost a certainty, since the money they formerly received has already started moving into the Medicaid expansion which we are not taking. I could also point out that unexpected medical expenses are the leading cause of bankruptcy and so people delay necessary care, leading to a sickly workforce. I could (and have) pointed out that Alabama shines on the health care front only where we provide close to universal access (citizens below the age of 21) and that is funded mostly through Medicaid and SCHIPS (another government funded program).
Instead, what I will point out is that we Alabamians are now required to maintain the current Medicaid eligibility. That means that a person who is working hard at two part time minimum wage jobs, going to school part time, and getting her act together is one gallbladder attack away from bankruptcy and homelessness. With the expansion, she would continue on her path out of poverty, minus her gallbladder.
That same woman, if she remains unmarried AND SHE HAD A CHILD OUT OF WEDLOCK, is eligible for Medicaid in Alabama NOW.
Governor Bentley sees it differently. From the article:
“I personally think the entire Affordable Care Act is falling apart. The people of this country do not like it. The majority of the people of this country do not like it. And I’m not going to be a part of it.”
Of the people who don’t like it, 14% want a single payer. Maybe the Governor been talking to his counterpart in Vermont.