Candidate: Rural hospitals should not be closed

Published 12:40 am Tuesday, October 2, 2018

State partially responsible for passing on Medicaid expansion, Maddox says

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Walt Maddox stood in front of the closed Florala Memorial Hospital Saturday morning and promised that, if elected, on Day 1, Hour 1, he’ll work to expand Medicaid in the state.

If his opponent, GOP nominee Kay Ivey, and her predecessor, Robert Bentley, had done that, he said, fewer rural Alabama hospitals would be closed, he said.

“The scene behind me is repeated throughout the state of Alabama,’ he said.

“Several years ago, we had an opportunity as a state to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act,” Maddox said. “We didn’t, because of politics. It had nothing to do with economic impact, but everything to do with it made very good politics.

“Since that time, we have seen hospital after hospital close,” Maddox said. “Mental health services continue to diminish in our state. Resources that could have been used against the opioid epidemic were lost to Alabama.

“In communities like Florala, now you’re struggling,” Maddox said. “For all the talk about jobs coming to our state, Florala is now at a disadvantage. With the loss of this hospital, it is increasingly difficult to recruit jobs in this area. A clinic that opened in 2017 has already closed its doors.”

Maddox said he believes rural Alabamians need better representation in Montgomery.

“There is a stark contrast in this race between my opponent and myself,” he said. “My opponent talks about rural Alabama, yet her very policies are having rural Alabama evaporate.”

The failure to expand Medicaid cost Alabama $1.8 billion, 30,000 new jobs, and $1 billion in indirect benefits, he said.

“Our rural infrastructure continues to deteriorate,” he said. “Public schools are not where we need them to be. The opioid epidemic continues its ravage with no end in sight.

Rural Alabama deserves better leadership.”

Maddox said as governor, he will propose an education lottery.

“And on day one, hour one, we will expand Medicaid.”

Maddox said in the last eight years, his opponent has held the highest or second highest position in the state.

“She’s been part of a policy that has done nothing but diminish the state’s health care capacity, diminish our economic capacity, and diminish the capacity of rural Alabama.

“Elections have consequences,” he said. “I ask you to think about one word when campaigning for us, and ultimately go and mark the ballot. That word is ‘future.’ Which candidate for governor wants to create a new and dynamic future?”

Maddox, who is 45, has been the mayor of Tuscaloosa for 13 years. His campaign will be in Andalusia on Friday, October 12.