Alabama healthcare task force recommends Medicaid expansion to governor

November 18, 2015

The task force Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley created to evaluate ways of improving the statewide healthcare system is advising him to expand Medicaid under the ACA. The 38-member Alabama Health Care Improvement Task Force penned a letter highlighting the struggles of Alabamians who fall in a coverage gap where they don't receive health benefits from their employer but earn too much to qualify for Medicaid. Citing a study from the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Health Professions, the task force found that expanding Medicaid would provide coverage for 290,000 Alabamians, including 185,000 who are currently employed. Although Bentley has voiced concern about finding the funds to expand the state's Medicaid program, the task force said an expansion would actually increase the state's revenue in the long run. The federal government will pay 100% of the coverage costs through 2017, after which the state would be responsible for paying 5% until 2020 when its share rises to no more than 10%. The UAB study found that expanding Medicaid would bring in $1.7 billion per year in new revenue for healthcare providers, which translates to $1.2 billion in income per year for the state's economy. The letter also detailed how expanding Medicaid would improve Alabama's historically poor healthcare metrics for chronic diseases and help keep hospitals in rural areas open.