MONTGOMERY — A Montgomery lawmaker and chair of the Gov. Robert Bentley’s Medicaid study commission said Monday that he can see a scenario in which Alabama expands Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act.
Besides providing healthcare for about 300,000 uninsured Alabamians, the expansion could pump $4 billion to $6 billion a year into the state’s economy, Rep. Greg Wren, R-Montgomery, said.
“I think that’s one reason you’ve seen so many governors in the last month say, ‘We can’t turn our back on the economics of what this does for our state,’” Wren said. “Alabama will be no different.”
But first, significant changes will have to be made. Wren said several pieces of legislation to reorganize the current Medicaid system in Alabama, which provides healthcare to about 900,000 low-income and disabled residents, will likely be introduced this week. One would put a cap on how many of the state’s general fund dollars go toward Medicaid each year. This year, the state will spend about $615 million on Medicaid, more than any other non-education agency.
Gov. Robert Bentley has said repeatedly in recent months that he will not expand a broken system.
Asked Monday if there is a scenario in which the system could be expanded in 2014, Bentley’s spokeswoman, Jennifer Ardis, said she couldn’t answer that question.
“It is hard to talk about hypotheticals because you can’t do that until the current system we have is fixed and isn’t broken,” she said.