Advocacy coalition says it’s time for Alabama to get serious and stop the Medicaid cuts

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A bill that would allow Alabama to spend the $20 billion BP oil spill settlement and help fund the state’s $85 million Medicaid shortfall died in the state Senate late Tuesday night.

The Legislature’s 30-day session is poised to end Wednesday and lawmakers have yet to find a way to fund the Alabama Medicaid Agency with the additional monies officials say are needed to maintain services across the state for the nearly one million Alabamians who live below the poverty line.

Progress seemed to be made last week when the House approved a bill dividing the settlement money to pay off state debts and as well as road projects in coastal Alabama counties, meanwhile freeing up $55 million of the necessary $85 million for the state’s Medicaid program.

But the bill stalled in the Senate’s budget committee Tuesday, leaving little hope for closing the budget gap before the Legislature goes out of session.

Following Tuesday night’s impasse, Alabama Arise, a coalition advocating for low-income Alabamians, called on the Alabama Legislature and Gov. Robert Bentley to “get serious” and stop the Medicaid cuts.

“Putting health care at risk for children, seniors, and people with disabilities is no way to build a stronger Alabama,” said Alabama Arise state coordinator Kimble Forrister.Neither is lurching from one budget crisis to another because of our state’s failure to solve the General Fund’s long-term funding shortfall.

“Alabama’s looming Medicaid cuts would be devastating for our most vulnerable neighbors. The cuts could prompt many pediatricians to leave the state and could end coverage of essential services like outpatient dialysis and adult eyeglasses.

“The governor and the Legislature need to act quickly to prevent these Medicaid cuts from becoming a reality later this year. And our state needs to get serious about raising the long-term, sustainable new revenue needed to invest in a healthier, stronger Alabama for all.”

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