Medicaid

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.

Sureshbhai Patel
Brynn Anderson / AP

The state of Alabama’s effort to cut off Medicaid payments to Planned Parenthood facilities was shut down in federal court yesterday.

U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson is ordering the state of Alabama to restore funding to Planned Parenthood. He says the state had no legal reason to cancel the agreement between those facilities and Medicaid providers.

Susan Watson is the Executive Director of the ACLU of Alabama. She says the judge’s ruling should be the end of this funding discussion.

Eric Parker
Brynn Anderson / AP

Federal prosecutors are trying for a second time to convict former Madison police officer Eric Parker of using unreasonable force when questioning an Indian man in February.

57 year old Sureshbhai Patel appears to have been slammed to the ground by Parker in a police dash camera video.

Robert Posey is the first assistant U.S. attorney for the northern district. He says the prosecution has good evidence on their side.

Planned Parenthood
Getty Images

Planned Parenthood is taking the state of Alabama to court after Governor Robert Bentley halted Medicaid payments to the organization's clinics in Alabama.

A federal judge will hold a hearing later this morning on Planned Parenthood Southeast's request for a preliminary injunction. Last month, Governor Bentley announced that he planned to terminate agreements allowing Planned Parenthood to be paid for providing services to Medicaid patients.

Governor Robert Bentley is endorsing Ohio Governor John Kasich for the Republican presidential nomination. Alabama Public Radio’s Stan Ingold has more…

Governor Kasich joined Bentley at the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in Birmingham. Governor Bentley says Kasich has the executive level experience and background necessary to lead.  Bentley called Kasich to offer his support after seeing him in a recent debate.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley says he will not back down as he battles with members of his own party over tax increases.

The governor says the cuts currently proposed to state services will cause a tremendous amount of pain to the citizens if lawmakers fail to plug a revenue hole.

The Alabama Senate will vote later today on a budget that slashes $200 million from Alabama’s state agency funding. Governor Bentley calls that budget unworkable and unacceptable. Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh says Republican senators remain largely opposed to any tax increases.

Last night, the Alabama House of Representatives approved a dramatic cut to Medicaid as lawmakers try to balance the General Fund budget.

Legislators in the House approved the $156 million dollar Medicaid cut on a second vote yesterday. The first vote failed.

Immediately afterward, the House passed its version of a General Fund budget. Funding for public health, prisons, mental health, human resources and the state’s courts would be unchanged. All other state agencies would see a 5.5% reduction in their operating budgets.

The Alabama House of Representatives is debating a large cut to Medicaid after a plan for filling a budget hole unraveled in a tension-filled special session.

Legislators will consider a $156 million funding reduction to Medicaid, the health care program for the poor and disabled.

The Republican proposal comes after a committee voted down an increase in the state's cigarette tax. But Democrats and some Republicans are opposing big cuts to Medicaid.

easternct.edu

A new national study says Alabama has the lowest rate in the South for children without health care coverage.

A study by the Center for Children and Families at Georgetown University says 4.3 percent of Alabama's children didn't have health coverage in 2013. Other Southern states ranged from slightly more than 5 percent to 11 percent. The national average was 7.1 percent. Alabama ranked 10th best among the states.

The study found that Alabama had nearly 11,000 fewer uninsured children in 2013 than in 2011.

PBS

The National Governors Association says Alabama, Nevada and Washington will participate in a year-long project to examine ways to spur changes in how states pay for Medicaid and other health care services.

The NGA says the project should help the states reach agreements with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for changes in the delivery and payment of health care and in the improvement of health outcomes.

Alabama State House
Trance Mist / Flickr

  Alabama's $1.8 billion General Fund budget for the next fiscal year has become law with only small changes from the governor.

Gov. Robert Bentley sent a line item veto the House of Representatives late Thursday making some alterations to the budget. Those changes became law when representatives adjourned for the night without taking action.

House budget committee chairman Rep. Steve Clouse of Ozark says the governor's changes to the operating budget were minor.

bigstory.ap.org

Monday is the last day for the uninsured to start signing up for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act.  Anyone who hasn’t at least started the process of signing up by then will have no other way of doing so until November and will face a penalty.  Bill Corr is Deputy Secretary with the US Department of Health and Human Services. 

Bill Corr: “It’s important for people to sign up by then.  If they don’t, it’ll be November before they have another enrollment period.  If you signed up next November, you’d have insurance starting in January.”

State of Alabama

Alabama's governor says the state won't create a health insurance exchange under the federal Affordable Care Act or use the law to expand Medicaid to cover more low-income Alabamians.

Gov. Robert Bentley made the announced Tuesday while speaking to the Birmingham Business Alliance. Friday is the deadline for states to notify President Barack Obama's administration whether they will create a state exchange or let the federal government implement one for them.

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