Medicaid

healthcare protest
Lawrence Specker / al.com

Protestors gathered in multiple Alabama cities yesterday to voice their opposition to a proposed replacement for the Affordable Care Act.

In Mobile, Al.com reports around 100 people gathered in front of the federal courthouse yesterday evening. The event was in part to promote organizers’ demand for Alabama U.S. Senators Richard Shelby and Luther Strange to actually meet with their constituents ahead of a healthcare vote in the Senate.

State senators approved a general fund budget last night after a long and at times contentious debate.

The budget passed the Senate 23 to 4. The House of Representatives had previously approved the $1.8 billion spending plan, but the bill will now head back to the house to decide whether representatives will go along with mostly minor Senate changes.

After hours of debate over the lack of a raise for state employees, the Alabama House of Representatives finally approved a General Fund Budget.

Representatives voted 72-28 in favor of the $1.8 billion budget late last night. The funding bill now moves to the state Senate.

Montgomery lawmakers tried unsuccessfully to add some sort of raise or bonus for state employees, who haven't had a cost-of-living increase since 2008.

Rep. Napoleon Bracy of Prichard says lawmakers wouldn't expect to work 10 years without a raise.

An Alabama senator says the federal government should cover most of the cost of caring for county jail inmates with mental illnesses.

Sen. Cam Ward, a Republican from Alabaster, says counties currently pay for the entirety of detainees' psychiatric health care. He has introduced a bill that would shift 70 percent of those costs to the federal government under the Medicaid system.

The legislation would also allow county inmates to resume federal mental health care benefits immediately after release.

Alabama lawmakers are back in Montgomery today to begin the 2017 legislative session.

One major priority will be redrawing legislative districts, after federal courts ruled the boundaries of 12 Alabama voting districts relied too heavily on race. Federal judges say they want new lines in place for next year’s elections, so lawmakers will need to work quickly to get a new legislative map in place.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley will make an announcement tomorrow regarding the Alabama Medicaid Industry.

Bentley will hold the news conference tomorrow at 2 p.m. at the Old House Chamber in Montgomery.

Joining Bentley for the announcement will be Stephanie Azar, the Commissioner of the AMA.

Earlier this month, Lawmakers agreed to using settlement money from the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in 2010 to help fill an $85 Million shortfall in Medicaid’s budget.

Taking A Look At Poverty In Alabama

Sep 19, 2016
Alex Aubuchon

When people are encouraged to understand others, they’re often told to walk a mile in their shoes. Alabamians have the chance to do just that at poverty simulations put on by the group Alabama Possible. APR Student Reporter Allison Mollenkamp attended a simulation hosted by the United Way of Alabama. She takes this look back… 

Volunteers are at a Alabama Possible poverty simulation. The group gathers in a gymnasium. There’s nothing on the walls--just groups of chairs in the middle of the room. Each cluster represents a family in the fictional town of Realville.

Alabama Senators will be debating how to divvy up the state’s portion of oil spill settlement money amid a looming hole in the Medicaid budget.

The Alabama Senate is expected to take up the settlement bill today. A version of the legislation passed the House last week. Debate on the Senate floor could get contentious, though, as Senators can’t seem to agree on how much money should help Medicaid and how much should go toward road projects on the Alabama coast.

Alabama State House
AP

The Alabama House of Representatives will take up debate on a lottery proposal championed by Governor Robert Bentley after it narrowly passed the Senate last week.

The bill would put the establishment of an Alabama lottery to the voters for the first time since 1999. The House Tourism Committee could hear the bill tomorrow.

Alabama State House
Jay Williams / Flickr

Alabama’s Senate and House of Representatives are back in Montgomery once again to try and find a solution to the state’s budget woes.

Governor Robert Bentley called the special session of the state’s legislature to find funding for Medicaid, infrastructure and state debt repayment. One of the most popular plans is to amend the state constitution to set up a lottery, with revenue directed into Alabama’s ailing General Fund.

The Alabama House and Senate are set to gather in special session today.

Governor Robert Bentley wants lawmakers to consider a constitutional amendment to create a state lottery. If the legislature says yes, then state voters will get to vote up or down on the idea in November. The Governor wants the money to go the general fund to help pay for Medicaid.

Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh says lawmakers will have questions and suggestions.

With all of the wet weather along the Gulf Coast, The National Weather service is issuing a Flash Flood Watch in that area for the next few days. 

The flood watch is effect for some areas until Saturday morning.  It stretches along the Gulf Coast from southeastern Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle.

The NWS says periods of moderate to heavy rain are expected through Friday across portions of coastal southwest Alabama.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley says he is still considering a special session on Medicaid funding but has not made a final decision.

The governor says Medicaid needed at least an additional $15 million in order to have adequate funding in the next fiscal year. Bentley adds he expects to announce a decision soon.

Lawmakers budgeted $700 million for the state Medicaid program. Bentley said $785 million was needed to maintain the program.

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 Medicaid officials say they opposed Medicaid language temporarily inserted in the 2013 budget that could have benefited a client of House Speaker Mike Hubbard.

Medicaid Commissioner Stephanie Azar testified today that Medicaid officials were caught off guard by language added in the House.  It would have set requirements for any pharmacy benefit manager the state might hire.

Common threads link the effort to remove Roy Moore as Alabama's chief justice with the case that resulted in his ouster from the same post more than a decade ago.

Each case involves Moore's conservative Christian beliefs and his views on the power of federal courts.

The Republican is suspended and faces a trial after judicial investigators filed a complaint Friday.  It accuses him of failing to respect U.S. Supreme Court and lower federal court decisions that cleared the way for gay marriage.

Alabama Supreme Court
Chris Pruitt / Wikimedia

An Alabama judicial regulatory body will decide whether Roy Moore should be removed as Chief Justice of the state Supreme Court.

Moore faces removal from the bench over his effort to block same-sex marriage from coming to Alabama despite a U.S. Supreme Court ruling effectively legalizing gay marriage nationwide. The Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission filed ethics charges against Moore late last week, accusing him of abusing his authority and failing to respect the judiciary.

UAB Hospital
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.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley is not happy the state legislature voted to override his veto on the General Fund Budget.  Lawmakers yesterday voted to enact the $1.8 billion general fund budget which will go in to effect on Oct. 1.  Bentley spoke to the media today along with Medicaid Commissioner Stephanie Azar.  Bentley had sought an additional $100 million for Medicaid. The Legislature only increased the funding for Medicaid by $15 million.

An Alabama judge says there’s enough probable cause to let a grand jury review the case against a white police officer in Montgomery charged with fatally shooting a black man last month.

Officer Aaron Smith was arrested and charged with murder less than a week after police say he fatally shot 58-year-old Greg Gunn in February.

Alabama lawmakers are expected to give their final approval to the General Fund budget later today. That will set up an expected veto by Gov. Robert Bentley over what he calls inadequate Medicaid funding.

Governor Bentley says the spending plan in its current form is unacceptable and he plans to veto it. The budget is $85 million short of the amount Bentley and state Medicaid commissioner Stephanie Azar say is needed to adequately fund the state's Medicaid program.

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.

Gov. Robert Bentley is hinting that lawmakers could be back in special session if they fail to pass a budget that he feels adequately funds Medicaid.

Bentley says he would veto any budget without an additional $100 million for Medicaid. While lawmakers could override his veto, Bentley says that did not preclude a special session.

Commissioner Stephanie Azar says Medicaid needs that amount to avoid cuts and continue a switch to managed care.

A bare-bones General Fund budget that could mean deep cuts for Medicaid passed a House committee and could see a House vote next week.

The House Ways and Means Committee approved the draft budget yesterday, putting it in line for a House vote next week. The state Medicaid commissioner says this budget will result in some deep cuts to Medicaid and other state services. Gov. Robert Bentley has already threatened to veto the budget unless lawmakers find more Medicaid funding.

The Tuscaloosa Police Department has announced how officers will be disciplined after a violent arrest last fall that went viral.

Police Chief Steven Anderson says Officer James Kent is still on administrative leave with pay pending disciplinary action. Officer Justin Sams received a written reprimand along with remedial training to improve his communication skills.

A judge has rescheduled a hearing on indicted House Speaker Mike Hubbard's request to dismiss ethics charges against him.  Circuit Judge Jacob Walker delayed the hearing until Feb. 16 because of a scheduling conflict.

Hubbard is alleging prosecutorial misconduct after a political consultant says he communicated often with the lead prosecutor and used the information to try to damage Hubbard politically.

Department of Housing and Urban Development
Wikimedia

More than 800 Alabamians could face eviction from public housing under a new proposal that would cut off assistance for higher-earning individuals.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development recently announced a proposal aimed at reducing the number of "over-income" tenants who live in government-assisted homes. Currently, federal law requires people to meet income requirements when they move in to government-assisted housing. But they are not forced to leave if their income grows past the threshold.

Alabama’s legislative session gets underway tomorrow and the focus, is expected to be on the budget.

The state’s two spending plans were center stage during last year’s session, and lawmakers are expecting another tight year this time around. Many General Fund agencies like the one that handles Medicaid are now asking for more money.

State House member Bill Poole says the General Fund budget will be a challenge for legislators, but he believes agreements will be reached.

Alabama's Medicaid program says it will need an additional $157 million to maintain services next year. It's a request that caused lawmakers to lash out at expense of the healthcare program and its recipients.

Medicaid Commissioner Stephanie Azar says the agency will have to cut services if it doesn't get close to that amount. She says the state might also have to abandon an ongoing switch to managed care without enough additional funds.

Tommy Bice
timesdaily.com

Alabama Department of Education Superintendent Tommy Bice says he will propose raising teacher salaries over the next three years.

Bice said yesterday his department would recommend raising teachers' salaries 5 percent in fiscal year 2017, which begins next October.

The state government will have the final word on public school spending next year. According to the department, the raise would cost $160 million.

Bice says he will seek additional raises in 2018 and 2019, with the goal of bringing teacher salaries in line with inflation.

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