Editorial: April Fools’ Day in Alabama — Refusal to expand Medicaid is no joking matter

Anniston Star, April 1, 2014

Gov. Robert Bentley, Alabama’s official top cop against the Obamacare intrusion, reversed course Monday and withdrew his vehement opposition to Medicaid expansion.

April Fools!

The joke is on us.

Oh, if only it were true.

If only Bentley had picked Monday — deadline day for signing up for private health insurance under President Obama’s health-care law — to announce a change of heart.

If only the governor would drop his campaign against what he at one time called the worst piece of legislation to come out of Washington.

If only Bentley would see the human mistake of playing politics over helping people improve their lives.

If only, indeed.

Yes, the joke’s on us.

As much of the nation rolls on with the vital matter of providing affordable health insurance to all Americans, Alabama is saddled with its own permanent April Fools’ joke. Bentley’s anti-Obamacare policy is the state’s albatross, a modern-day mistake from which Alabama can’t escape.

Bentley’s stance would be much more defensible if it were couched in more legitimate gripes about the Affordable Care Act. The botched rollout of the online exchanges. The website’s problems. The White House’s poor job of selling the law to a skeptical public. Competing industry analyses that provide a confusing array of data about the law’s effectiveness thus far.

Make no mistake, the Affordable Care Act, a much-needed law, is flawed.

But that’s not Bentley’s gripe.

The governor instead continues to toe the line in the sand he drew at the law’s genesis. He calls the Medicaid system “broken” and, in his State of the State address in January, asked, “how can we believe the federal government will keep its word” about paying for nearly all of the Medicaid expansion costs?

That anti-government, anti-Washington, anti-Medicaid stance is indeed Alabama’s own version of a bad April Fools’ Day spoof. It’s no joking matter that Gov. Bentley considers the health of as many as 300,000 Alabamians not as important as fighting the big, bad federal monster in Washington.

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