House slashes $156M from Medicaid
Published 10:15 am Thursday, August 6, 2015
The Alabama House of Representatives traumatized health care providers yesterday when it passed a General Fund budget that slashes state Medicaid funding and jeopardizes many more millions of federal Medicaid dollars.
The House version would cut the Medicaid Agency y $156 million next year. Rep. Mike Jones, R-Andalusia, who voted against the cuts, said the cuts would actually be deeper, because Alabama receives a 2-to-1 match for Medicaid.
“It’s more like $450 million plus,” he said.
The proposed budget amendment slashing Medicaid funding came out of committee in the House on Tuesday. Wednesday, the full House first rejected the amendment, 46-45, but later approved the amendment 46-44 and passed the budget.
Jones spoke against the amendment at the House podium, and reiterated his concerns after the body adjourned for the day.
“We have two rural hospitals remaining in our district,” he said. “We have numerous nursing homes, and those patients are 67 to 70 percent Medicaid.
“Aside from the fact that it would force people that need to be there out of nursing home, it’s also about a factor of jobs.”
Jones estimated the proposed cuts would affect 700 jobs in Covington County.
“I heard from a number of doctors today, too,” he said. “Some sent messages to me on the floor.”
SalLee Sasser-Williams, whose family owns Andalusia Manor and a nursing home in Perry County, said 68 percent of the nursing home residents in Covington County depend upon Medicaid.
“This is devastating,” she said late Wednesday.
The House version of the General Fund budget now goes to the Senate, where other proposals have been discussed, including covering the shortfall in the General Fund with money from the Education Trust Fund.
Jones reassured local residents that the process is not over.
“The legislative process is like making sausage,” he said. “You don’t want to watch.”
The budget, as approved by the House, also only has conditional funding for Regional Care Organizations (RCOs), as required by the federal government as part of Medicaid reform.
It also only has conditional funding for prison reform, which he shepherded through the legislature during the 2015 Regular Session as chairman of the Judiciary Committee.
Alabama ARISE, a nonprofit coalition which promotes policies to improve the lives of low-income Alabamians, predicted that the General Fund cuts as proposed would likely lead to the closure of Children’s Hospital in Birmingham, as well as dozens of other hospitals and nursing homes across the state.
About one in five Alabamians would lose their health care coverage.
WHO TO CONTACT:
The proposed budget and cuts now go to the Senate.
Sen. Jimmy Holley represents Covington County in the Senate. His office can be reached at 334-242-7845.
Sen. Del Marsh is president pro tem of the Senate. His office can be reached at 334-242-7877.
Rep. Mike Jones office’ can be reached at 334-242-7739.
Rep. Steve Clouse chairs the General Fund committee that suggested the cuts. His office can be reached at 334-242-7717.