Medicaid expansion proponents have a new ally in their effort, according to State Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur).

A report released by the Alabama Hospital Association to some media outlets on Friday showed Alabama hospitals had lost an estimated $1.5 billion since the beginning of the pandemic. Some have interpreted the timing of the report's release to be part of an effort to expand Medicaid as the 2023 legislative session approaches.

However, Orr told Huntsville radio WVNN host Dale Jackson on his Friday broadcast that the missive was likely targeting a share of federal money allocated to Alabama by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

But the Morgan County Republican lawmaker said one significant change in the annual Medicaid expansion push this go-around is that it has the backing of the business community, including the Business Council of Alabama and insurance juggernaut Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama.

"They've got the business community – BCA, Blue Cross, all these big kind of business organizations behind them, going to be pushing Medicaid expansion," he said. "When you say, 'Well, why is that?' It is because they see more money coming from Washington as if it's quote, 'free money,' end quote – coming in from Washington that will be poured into the health care system. So, everybody benefits. More money in the system means more money for sales taxes, more employees."

"But then again, healthcare gobbles up more discretionary money that's out there, and somebody's got to pay it," Orr continued. "We know the Feds — they don't have the money in the first place. But then you push off some of that responsibility on the state of Alabama budgets. And so, you know, the business associations that are pushing this – they know they're probably not going to be taxed. Who will be taxed to come up with a couple of hundred million dollars to pay for this? Mom-and-pop, middle-class workers, etc., etc."

Jeff Poor is the executive editor of 1819 News and host of "The Jeff Poor Show," heard Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-noon on Mobile's FM Talk 106.5. To connect or comment, email or follow him on Twitter @jeff_poor.

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