Word came through the pipeline early Thursday from an intern of Rep. Craig Ford (D-Gadsden) that House Democrats would be filibustering the introduction of the Special Order Calendar, approved by the Rules Committee, which aims to bring forth the General Fund budget for discussion next week. True to form, Dems did just that when Rep. Mac McCutcheon (R-Huntsville) moved for approval of the calendar.
Rep. John Knight (D-Montgomery) spoke first and chastised members of the Rules Committee for putting forth legislation for discussion which hasn’t addressed paramount problems of the state.
“If we’re not going to fund Medicaid, there’s no need for us to have any kind of order,” Knight said. “There will be no order in this House until we decide to fund Medicaid.”
Knight said more than 500,000 Alabama children use Medicaid and choosing not to adequately fund the program would take away those children’s health care. Knight encouraged members to meet with Gov. Robert Bentley and others to find a solution, possibly cutting other programs to fund it.
“If we can’t do that, there’s no need in us being here,” Knight said. “We were elected to do our jobs. We came together on the education budget, so we must do the same thing as it relates to the General Fund budget.”
Rep. Mary Moore (D-Birmingham) also railed against the calendar, urging lawmakers to do whatever is required to provide relief to Alabama’s most needy citizens and make sure that Medicaid funding is a priority for the state.
Rep. Ralph Howard (D-Greensboro) spoke out against the General Fund’s failure to adequately fund Medicaid, leaving an about $100 million shortfall in the program and obliterating Alabama’s plans to institute the Regional Care Organization (RCO) plan.
“I represent a lot of poor people and healthcare is something that’s very important to them,” Howard said. “I just wanted to convey to this body that we really need to take a look at what we do for those poor people.”
Howard noted that Perry County hasn’t had a hospital in many years and rural hospitals are being decimated by the state’s failure to fund Medicaid.
“It needs to be the will of this body, and the Senate and the governor, to really try to make Alabama a better place,” Howard said. “And I don’t think there’s a better place to start than healthcare. Those are good people in rural Alabama and they deserve better.”
As Howard completed his statements, Rep. Danny Crawford (R-Athens) made a motion to adjourn and the House agreed.