Despite defiant rhetoric from legislators, the buzz about an attempt to expand Medicaid eligibility will not go away.
However, two members of the Alabama Senate are very bearish on the prospects of any effort gaining approval from the legislature.
State Sen. Chris Elliott (R-Josephine) doubled down on his opposition to Medicaid expansion.
According to Elliott, there is not only a cost to state budgets but also a "societal" cost.
"It is absolutely not happening on my watch," Elliott said during an interview with Mobile radio FM Talk 106.5's "The Jeff Poor Show." "That is a horrible idea for the state, and not just from a cost standpoint because the federal government is going to leave us in the lurch on that. They will say, 'Oh, we're going to fund 90% of it or 100% of it. Then we'll dial it back to 70[%].' They're going to leave us in the lurch, and Alabama will be saddled with a huge entitlement program that we can't afford, that we can ill-afford. And then again, there are the societal issues that come along with that. If you disincentivize grown people being responsible, having a job, and having their own health insurance by giving it to them for free, they won't go to work, and we've seen that all too often.
"Half of all the children born in the state of Alabama are born into Medicaid through our CHIPS program right now. And that means we're giving mothers and children great care their first year, and they're getting great care, and that's all well and good. But if you have half of the population that's being born is being born on the government dole. That's backward. We cannot go forward on that. We probably shouldn't have gone as far as we have."
Elliott's colleague, State Sen. Clyde Chambliss (R-Prattville), also dismissed the possibility during an appearance on FM Talk 106.5.
Chambliss took umbrage with Medicaid expansion proponents who claim the policy change would "pay for itself."
"Personally, I don't think so," Chambliss said. "You have to know how you're going to pay for it long-term before you jump off into that. I've heard anecdotal – some people say, 'It will pay for itself.' That's just not the way finances work. If somebody can show me that, we can talk. But I don't see that happening. It's a tough haul, and the reason we're in the financial shape we're in right now is because we've been conservative with our dollars and not overextending ourselves in stuff we can't maintain long-term."
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