Governor Please Consider the People who would Benefit by Expanding Medicaid ...
www.al.com, Dec. 27, 2013
The following is an opinion piece written on behalf of the coalition for a Healthier Escambia County.
I am writing this letter on behalf of the members of the Coalition for Healthier Escambia County.
Our organization was established in 1995 to address the health care needs of our county and we have been meeting monthly with few exceptions since that time. In all these years, we have missed less than six meetings and we rotate our meeting sites among the three towns. We have a core group of people who meet regularly and our membership is comprised of business people, physicians, nurses, retirees, chambers of commerce executives, hospital administrators, local and state politicians as well as concerned citizens.
We are writing you out of our great concern that our state is not participating in the Medicaid expansion program that is desperately needed by thousands of uninsured people in our state.
We are aware that you have "drawn a line in the sand" which will result in our state losing billions of dollars in federal funds which we understand do not require a state match and do not require us to pay ANYTHING back in 2014, 2015, or 2016. It is not until 2020 that Alabama will be required to pay its 10 percent share.
Medicaid expansion is especially important to those of us who live in rural Alabama. Our hospitals depend on Medicaid funding to remain viable. It is our request that you please reconsider your position, in a manner which has been done by several Southern, Republican governors. It is our belief that there are thousands of Alabamians who are uninsured simply because they do not earn a salary that allows them to purchase insurance and could benefit from the Medicaid expansion program. Contrary to many opinions, these people are among Alabama's workforce. In fact, there have been 90,000 documented in various categories of workers who are doing their best to support their families.
One of our greatest concerns is that at the federal and state level our health care has become nothing but a "political football" and we need action to assure that this does not continue. I am sure that you are aware that a number of organizations have joined together to promote expanded health care access for low–income Alabamians who don't qualify for the current Medicaid program. We ask that you join in these collaborative efforts and take the needed leadership role in reconsidering your current position regarding the Medicaid program. This new coalition is called Alabama's Better Economy Starts Today, also know as Alabama's BEST. Hopefully you will see a need to become a part of this collaborative effort.
Please sign on to Medicaid expansion before the end of this year so that Alabama does not lose billions of needed federal funds over the next few years.
(Ruth Harrell is chair of the Coalition for Healthier Escambia County. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.)