State Lawmakers to Hold Medicaid Hearing, Six Hospitals Recognized for LGBT Inclusiveness

Apr 19, 2016

University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital
Credit UAB

Alabama lawmakers plan to hold hearings on the state's Medicaid program tomorrow.

The House and Senate general fund budget committees have scheduled a joint meeting tomorrow to discuss funding options for the government health care program that covers approximately a million Alabamians.

House Speaker Mike Hubbard says lawmakers plan to question Medicaid officials about the agency's finances and costs.

Earlier this year, legislators overrode a veto from Gov. Robert Bentley to enact a general fund budget that will steer $700 million to Medicaid next fiscal year. Bentley says that’s $85 million short of what is needed to maintain Medicaid services.

Medicaid Commissioner Stephanie Azar says the program will have to make reductions to service at that funding level, and it will interrupt the state’s plan to transition Medicaid to a managed care system.

Six hospitals in Alabama have been honored for their embrace of LGBT-inclusive policies and practices, such as ensuring equal visitation rights for LGBT patients.

Tari Hanneman is the author of the Healthcare Equality Index and Deputy Director of the HRC Foundation’s Health and Aging Program. She says there are some new hospitals being recognized.

“So the three that I listed first, Cooper Green, Medical West and the University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital are all receiving the designation for the first time. The VA Hospitals [in Birmingham, Montgomery and Tuscaloosa] actually started participating in the HEI back in 2013, and have received it every year since then.”

A record 2,061 healthcare facilities are rated in the HEI survey. About 496 earned the Leader in LGBT Healthcare Equality Designation.

An Alabama man’s appeal of his life sentence has been turned down by the US Supreme Court. APR student reporter Allison Mollenkamp has more.

76 year old Lee Carrol Brooker was sentenced to life in prison without parole for possession of marijuana. The amount was less than three pounds and Brooker claimed it was for personal use. His sentence was based on habitual offense and a history of armed robberies and drug smuggling.

Lawyers for Brooker claim his sentencing under habitual offender laws in Alabama was cruel and unusual punishment. The Supreme Court upheld the original sentence.

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore says the sentence shows grave flaws in Alabama’s sentencing system.

Authorities say a shoplifting suspect in police custody died during a two-hour wait in a north Alabama hospital emergency room.

Decatur police lieutenant John Crouch says 26-year-old Justin Lee Dunn died last week at Decatur-Morgan Hospital.

Crouch says an officer took Dunn from jail to the hospital following his arrest at a Wal-Mart store, where workers found him vomiting in a bathroom.

Police officials say medical workers sent the man to the waiting room after an initial screening. He was unresponsive by the time a bed was available.

During his arrest, Dunn told the officers he had been inhaling compressed air. Lt. Crouch says an officer was with Dunn the entire time, and it appeared the man had only gone to sleep.

State investigators are currently reviewing the situation.