Proposed Medicaid legislation unacceptable

Published 1:04 pm Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Two weeks ago, the House of Representatives passed a proposed General Fund budget that I find unacceptable and will not support when brought before the Senate.  I cannot in good faith support proposed cuts of over $175 million to Medicaid, which is the equivalent to reducing funding to the agency by more than 30 percent.  In addition, for each dollar that the state cuts from Medicaid, we lose approximately two dollars in federal matching dollars that will result in Medicaid losing up to $525 million next year.

As a Legislator, I am proud that Medicaid has always been, and remains, one of my top priorities.  Up until now, Medicaid was a priority of the legislature as a whole because so many of our citizens critically depend on it to have access to basic health care.

Sadly, those priorities have clearly changed.  The Republican supermajority refuses to discuss alternatives that may prevent these harsh cuts, and as a result, the people of Alabama are going to suffer.  Unborn children will suffer because 1 out of every 2 live births in the state are funded by Medicaid.  People across all races will suffer as 55 percent of all Medicaid payments are spent on white Alabamians while 37 percent of all Medicaid payments are spent on African-Americans.  Women will suffer because they make up 61 percent of all people eligible to receive Medicaid benefits in the state.

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The effect that these cuts will have on our state and communities will be devastating.  Dialysis treatments, which saves lives everyday, may not be given to Medicaid participants anymore because the state is not required by law to provide them.  Across the board pharmacy limits could be implemented that would restrict each Medicaid participant to only one brand name medication and three generic medications.  People are going to be denied access to vital medication or life saving treatments because there simply will not be the funding to cover them.

Nearly 1 million Alabamians receive benefits from Medicaid.  As a result, these cuts will impact all Alabamians’ lives either directly as patients or indirectly through a family member or close friend.

Due to that fact, I remain steadfast in my commitment in fighting these budget cuts to protect the lives and crucial health-related services that so many of those living in District 22 depend upon.

Senator Marc Keahey
Alabama Senator District 22