August 06, 2015

Cutting Medicaid funding will harm health care across Alabama

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medicaidThe CEO of the state’s largest health care provider says the proposal in the Alabama legislature to cut $156 million from the state’s Medicaid program in the 2017 budget would be a devastating blow to access to care for every resident of this state and a devastating blow to one of the largest industries in the state.

“Alabama’s Medicaid program is much more than a health insurance program,” said Will Ferniany, Ph.D., CEO of the University of Alabama at Birmingham Health System. “It is a vital part of the state’s health care delivery system and supports the infrastructure of hospitals, physicians, nursing homes and pharmacies. In fact, Alabama Medicaid covers the health care needs of nearly 1 million Alabamians. 

Medicaid was targeted after a budget committee rejected a cigarette tax increase. The cuts also would reduce the federal dollars Alabama receives for its Medicaid program, resulting in a combined impact of more than $450 million.

The House voted 46-44 in favor of the “slash and burn Medicaid” amendment. The vote now goes to the Senate.

  “Significant cuts are unsustainable and threaten the future of Alabama’s Medicaid agency. They could even force the agency to close, as reduced funding will make it difficult to keep Alabama’s program in compliance with federal requirements.”
“Significant cuts are unsustainable and threaten the future of Alabama’s Medicaid agency. They could even force the agency to close, as reduced funding will make it difficult to keep Alabama’s program in compliance with federal requirements,” said Ferniany.

He also predicts that, in many rural and inner-city areas, the doctors and hospitals that residents rely on might not survive without Medicaid funding. Significant cuts could force hospitals to cut services, lay off employees or even close. Alabama’s medical infrastructure might not be able to recover from the damage.

“I pray cuts to Medicaid funding in Alabama will not pass,” Ferniany said. “Medicaid cannot sustain this type of funding cut.”
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