A new report details who exactly would benefit from expanded Medicaid in Alabama. The advocacy group Alabama Arise and the national Families USA are highlighting the professions of the people who are being caught in the so-called “Medicaid Gap.” Those are people who make too little to qualify for subsidies under the healthcare law but too much to qualify for Medicaid. Authors of the Affordable Care Act had planned for states to expand Medicaid but many Republican-leaning states chose not to after the Supreme Court ruled they didn’t have to. Jim Carnes is Policy Director for the Arise Citizens’ Policy Project. He says the report shows nearly 185,000 working Alabamians who are uninsured would be helped.
Jim Carnes: “We’ve heard some of our leaders express concern that programs like Medicaid cause people to become dependent on the government. But we would like to highlight a different kind of dependence. Our study shows that the Alabamians who would benefit from Medicaid expansion are the people we all depend on every day.”
Highlighting a few of the biggest categories, people the groups say would stand to benefit are 26,000 people in food service, 26,000 construction workers, 25,000 people in sales, and 20,000 in cleaning and maintenance. Irby Ferguson, manager of the Access to Care Program at St. Vincent’s Health System in Birmingham, says he sees first-hand what happens to those people.
Irby Ferguson: “I think there’s an idea sometimes, too, that often goes unchallenged, and I hear this idea that somehow the poor, to some extent, well, they’re moochers, that somehow they’ve done something wrong to land where they’re at. And I can tell you that simply is not true. Many of these folks are actually hard-working people, and they are deserving of help.”
The Republican-dominated legislature and Governor Robert Bentley say expansion of Medicaid could be costly in the long run and make people more dependent on government. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Parker Griffith wants to expand Medicaid.