Alabama Medicaid

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley
AP

A proposal to establish a state lottery is heading to the House of Representatives as Senators were finally able to break their gridlock and narrowly pass a measure.

This bill, backed by Governor Robert Bentley, would put the idea of creating a state lottery to the first public vote since 1999. This bill does not allow for any electronic gambling terminals like the measure proposed by Sen. Jim McClendon. It merely establishes a lottery, with the vast majority of revenue going to the state's General Fund.

Members of Alabama’s House of Representatives have elected Republican Representative Mac McCutcheon of Capshaw, Alabama as the new Speaker of the House.

McCutcheon received 68 votes during yesterday’s election. He promised to be fair to Representatives on both sides of the aisle, and says the days of “imperial speakership are over”.

McCutcheon replaces former House Speaker Mike Hubbard. Hubbard was removed from office after he was convicted of felony ethics violations.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley
Alex AuBuchon / APR

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley visited two Tuscaloosa mental health facilities yesterday. He wants to stress the need for Medicaid funding in the state.

The Governor visited the Arc of Tuscaloosa County and Indian Rivers Mental Health Clinic. Both facilities help individuals with mental illness and intellectual and developmental disabilities. And both organizations depend heavily on Medicaid funding in order to provide services. Bentley is advocating for an increase of at least $85 million in Medicaid funding to stave off cuts.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley says he is calling a special legislative session for a state lottery. APR’s MacKenzie Bates has the details.

Bentley's office released a video yesterday saying he wants lawmakers to approve legislation that would let voters decide whether to green-light a constitutional amendment to allow a lottery.

Bentley says the time has come to find a permanent solution to fix some of the state’s financial issues.

Democratic National Convention
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Alabama lawmakers are currently being polled about support for lottery legislation as Governor Robert Bentley contemplates calling a special session on Medicaid funding.

Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh says legislative leaders are gauging interest from state legislators. Marsh says the discussions come as Governor Bentley contemplates calling a special session that could include a lottery bill.

Alabama lawmakers are currently being polled about support for lottery legislation as Governor Robert Bentley contemplates calling a special session on Medicaid funding.

Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh says legislative leaders are gauging interest from state legislators. Marsh says the discussions come as Bentley contemplates calling a special session that could include a lottery bill.

Stephanie Azar
Albert Cesare / Montgomery Advertiser

Alabama’s Medicaid program has announced its first real-world impact of the state budget cuts.

The program announced yesterday that it would no longer offer enhanced reimbursement payments for primary care doctors starting next month. The enhanced payments, commonly referred to as the “primary care bump”, brought Medicaid reimbursement up to the level offered by Medicare for certain health providers. It was designed to get more doctors to accept and treat Medicaid patients.

 State lawmakers ended the 2016 session with three big items of unfinished business: the oil spill settlement division; Medicaid funding and prison construction. 

Governor Robert Bentley recently said he's considering calling a special session later this year for another try.

The governor's $800 million prison construction plan was the centerpiece of his agenda, but didn't get approved by lawmakers.

The Alabama House of Representatives has approved a bare-bones General Fund budget that Gov. Robert Bentley has already threatened to veto over inadequate Medicaid funding.

Representatives approved the spending bill on a 65-35 vote yesterday after a five-hour filibuster by black lawmakers. Democrats harshly criticized the proposed spending plan, which comes up $85 million short of the amount Bentley says is needed to adequately fund Medicaid.

Montgomery Rep. John Knight says Medicaid provides medical care to 1 million vulnerable Alabamians and has few programs to trim.

A public meeting was held in Perry County last night about an outbreak of tuberculosis. APR’s MacKenzie Bates has the latest about the ongoing efforts to contain the respiratory disease.

Officials with the Alabama Department of Public Health took questions about tuberculosis for about an hour at Francis-Marion High School. Officials say 26 people have been diagnosed with tuberculosis within the last year, 20 of which are from Marion. The illness has resulted in three deaths.

It’s been almost one week since the Legislature ended a special session without a general fund budget.

Governor Robert Bentley is expected to call another special session to deal with a projected $200 million shortfall in the state’s coffers.

As both chambers remain divided on the issue, the house did vote in favor of cutting $156 million from Medicaid before passing their version of the budget.

Huntsville Republican Representative Phil Williams says he was ashamed of that vote, but he believes the move sent a message throughout Montgomery.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley is cutting off Medicaid payments to Planned Parenthood in the wake of undercover videos implying the group was selling fetal tissue to research groups.

Governor Bentley called Planned Parenthood's practices "deplorable” in a statement yesterday. He says he doesn't want Alabama to be associated with the group. Bentley says the state is terminating an agreement with Planned Parenthood Southeast to serve as a Medicaid provider.

Alabama State House
Jay Williams / Flickr

Time is running out for the Alabama Legislature to work out a general fund budget, but the state Senate is beginning to iron out the details.

State agency heads told members of the Senate Budget Committee yesterday that proposed cuts will close circuit clerk offices, slash Medicaid services and send state prisons into a danger zone of crowding and violence.

Committee Chairman Arthur Orr says there are close to $150 million in revenue-generating bills under discussion that could reduce the cuts if they win legislative approval.

Alabama’s general fund budget is slowly starting to take shape after some action in the state house.

The House Ways and Means General Fund Committee has approved a budget that makes deep cuts to state agencies. The budget would cut Medicaid, mental health and state prisons corrections by five percent. Other state agencies would be cut by nine percent.

This proposal would impact the general fund budget. Alabama’s schools are funded by a separate spending plan.

Committee members throughout the Alabama Legislature have a busy day ahead of them.

The Senate Education Committee will hold a public hearing this morning on a bill aiming to repeal the Common Core curriculum standards.

The House Ways and Means Education Committee will also consider changes to the Alabama Accountability Act, a state program that provides scholarships to help some families pay for private school.

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Governor Robert Bentley may be softening his position on expanding Medicaid. APR’s Pat Duggins reports…

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The Alabama Supreme Court has heard arguments on the constitutionality of a law that gives low-income families tax credits to pay for private school.

A lawyer representing individuals challenging the Alabama Accountability Act said Wednesday that it does an end run on Alabama's prohibition of using education funds to support private religious schools.

However, a lawyer representing families using the credits said it supports parents seeking education opportunities for their children, not private schools.

PBS

State officials say Alabama Medicaid's monthly enrollment has topped 1 million for the first time.

Officials said Thursday that a review of data for the first five months of the year show the milestone happened in February. Officials attribute the increase to a federally required transfer of children from the state's All Kids program and changes in how Medicaid eligibility is determined. Officials say the numbers also reflect the first enrollment of individuals who applied for coverage through the federal health exchange under the federal Affordable Care Act.

governor.alabama.gov

Gov. Robert Bentley is proposing state budgets that would require most state agencies to get by next year with about the same amount they are receiving this year.

Bentley's proposals include increases for all levels of public education.

Bentley's office released his recommended budgets Tuesday, which is the second day of the Legislature's 2014 session.

Bentley's state General Fund budget for the next fiscal year would spend $1.8 billion. The biggest increase is $70 million is for Medicaid. Courts would get a small increase.

University of Wisconsin

Voting rights groups and Alabama officials have reached an agreement to make sure people applying for social services receive voter registration material.

The Alabama State Conference of the NAACP and others announced the agreement Tuesday. It calls for the state to proactively offer voter registration services to people when they apply for, renew or submit a change of address to the state Medicaid Agency or state Department of Human Resources.

blog.al.com

A Wal-Mart Stores Inc. representative offered a proposal to a state Medicaid reform panel that would make the chain Alabama's main provider of drugs through Medicaid.

Members of the Alabama Medicaid Pharmacy Study Commission heard the proposal Thursday. Panel members were appointed by Gov. Robert Bentley to look for ways to save money on drugs dispensed through Medicaid, the state and federal medical insurance program.

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The federal government says Alabama should repay almost $90 million in Medicaid funding.

A report from the Office of Inspector General says the federal government gave Alabama too much Medicaid bonus money in 2009 and 2010.

The report says that's because the state Medicaid agency used improper calculations to compute how many children participated in the program.

State Health Officer Don Williamson says the state agency made what he calls an "honest mistake" that resulted in the state's report being off by about 90,000 children.

al.com

Alabama Medicaid officials have divided the state into five districts under a new care management plan that's supposed to streamline the system.

   The Legislature earlier this year approved a reorganization of Medicaid into districts around the state. State Health Officer Don Williamson, the acting Medicaid director, said it was difficult to decide how to divide the counties, and added that some counties could be shifted before the map is finalized Oct. 1.

al.com

Alabama Medicaid officials have divided the state into five districts under a new care management plan.

   The Legislature earlier this year approved a reorganization of Medicaid into districts around the state. Acting Medicaid Director State Health Officer Don Williamson says it was difficult to decide how to divide the counties, and added that some counties could be shifted before the map is finalized Oct. 1.

The Associated Press

The Alabama Legislature has approved a compromise General Fund budget that increases funding for courts and prisons.

texastribune.org

The Alabama Legislature has voted to extend two taxes that support the state Medicaid program.

The assessments on nursing homes and hospitals were due to expire this year, but the Senate gave final approval Thursday to bills that extend the nursing home tax for two years and the hospital tax for three years. The bills passed the House earlier and now go to the governor to be signed into law.

Senate budget committee Chairman Arthur Orr of Decatur says the bills were critical to maintaining Medicaid services for low-income Alabamians.

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The Alabama Legislature passed a sweeping revision to Medicaid that replaces the way the program delivers and pays for care with regional managed care operators.

Under the legislation passed Tuesday, the State Medicaid Agency will no longer bear financial risks but will instead assume the role of contract administrators. Savings of $50 million to $75 million over five years and future cost containment is expected.

Privately owned Regional Care Organizations won't deal directly with patients, but will contract directly with doctors to provide care.

blog.al.com

The Alabama House will consider a bill that would reorganize the state's Medicaid program.

The bill will be up for final passage in the House of Representative Tuesday.

The bill was recommended by a Medicaid Advisory committee created by Gov. Robert Bentley.

The Medicaid bill will be debated Tuesday with just three days remaining in the 2013 legislative session. The bill replaces the current payment method with the regional care organizations.

Alabama State House
Trance Mist / Flickr

Lawmakers are trying to ease the financial burden Medicaid places on Alabama by passing a bill designed to streamline the $5.63 billion program's operational system.

The bill under consideration could change the present "fee-for-service" basis of Medicaid payments to a for-profit, managed care plan or a combination of nonprofit and for-profit companies.

The Medicaid Advisory Committee commissioned by Gov. Robert Bentley does not want to use for-profit managed care companies.

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