An editorial from FOX6 WBRC-TV General Manager Lou Kirchen, first aired on Tuesday, June 18

On June 6, Governor Bentley signed a bill that will overhaul the Medicaid system in Alabama. This bill represents a plan that is an alternative to both expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act and to accepting the federal revenue that would come with that expansion.

Governor Bentley says our state cannot afford to expand its Medicaid assistance program now. The existing system, serving more than 900,000 Alabamians, according to the Governor "is broken." He says under its current structure, it accounts for a third of the General Fund Budget in our state. According to website, the national average for state Medicaid expenditures is 16.8 percent or just about half that. The new model is expected to save the state up to $69 million a year when fully implemented.

On the other side of this issue, proponents for the expansion of the state's Medicaid program tout the huge influx of revenue they believe would be realized by adding an estimated 300,000 to the Medicaid rolls. The Montgomery Advertiser sites a UAB study that estimates those additional Medicaid recipients would cost the state up to $375 million, but would generate nearly $20 billion in economic activity and almost $1 billion in new revenue. A recent study by the Rand Corporation finds that states not expanding their Medicaid plans "would be subject to the taxes, fees and other revenue provisions of the Affordable Care Act, without reaping the benefit of the additional federal spending."

This is a complicated issue with passionate support on both sides of it. Alabama taxpayers and those who can afford to pay and do pay for their health care are going to bear the burden of this expense one way or the other. What do you think?

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