Investing in Medicaid will stoke our state’s economy, create jobs (Your view)

Submitted on June 27, 2013 at 7:30 AM, updated June 27, 2013 at 7:38 AM

Dr. Allen Perkins' recent column on al.com said Alabama's future industrial recruitment will suffer if we don't expand Medicaid.

He said companies will prefer to locate in states that expand Medicaid and have more residents who are healthy and insured. I agree, but I don't want your readers to think we'll see the economic development benefits only when some future industrial prospect comes along. Medicaid expansion IS economic development.

Medicaid expansion, which would pump $12 billion into our state's economy, could be the biggest single job creator our state has ever seen.

If more Alabamians get Medicaid coverage, health services will be in greater demand - and hospitals will get paid for some of the charity care they now provide. This will lead to job creation in health care and in other sectors, too, as these workers buy homes, cars, goods and services.

While we would all share the benefits, the costs would fall mostly to the federal government. The federal government would pay the full tab the first three years, and at no time would the state's share exceed 10 percent.

In the past, Alabama has been willing to chip in money to win industries, knowing our entire state would benefit from the investment.

Medicaid expansion should be viewed in the same light. By making a relatively small investment in health care, Alabama can boost our economy and generate thousands of new jobs - now and in the future.

Jo Morris
Birmingham

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