Alabama lives Matter! But you wouldn’t know this to be true if you consider the actions and behaviors of our state legislators or governor. It is time for the people of Alabama with a united voice to rise up and tell our state legislators and our governor that their behaviors and actions are placing Alabama lives in harms way. Case in point is the continual blockage of medicaid expansion by the State’s Senate and House Republicans as well as Governor Bentley, who ironically is a medical doctor who should know his Hippocratic oath. The Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, allows for the expansion of Medicaid to cover those individuals who 1) do not qualify for current medicaid provisions in their state by raising those eligible for Medicaid to 133% of the federal poverty level and 2) covers those individuals who although are working do not meet the eligibility threshold of the Affordable Care Act. In Alabama that would cover an additional 300k lives.
The Senate recently passed a resolution forbidding Governor Bentley from expanding Medicaid in the state. It is now before the House and it is presumed it will come up for a vote this coming week. Governor Bentley has opposed Medicaid expansion since the passage of the federal act against the best interests of the people he is elected to serve. However, in recent months he has indicated that he may finally expand Medicaid because doing so would increase revenue into the state and help meet the budgetary shortfall. Notice however, he is not thinking of doing this because it would save Alabamian lives but rather his administration.
Every year up to 700 lives, that is 3 lives every two days, are lost because they were unable to get timely treatment for medical conditions resulting in their death. It has been argued by Governor Bentley and others that no one will be denied health care in Alabama. However, Emergency rooms are not treatment centers for devastating diseases like cancer or diabetes. Women cannot get mammograms in an emergency room visit. Emergency room care is not preventative treatment. And Governor Bentley of all people should know this; his behaviors in response to this life and death crisis is unconscionable.
The cost of providing emergency room services as treatment centers is causing hospitals in poorer economic regions of Alabama to close. Since 2011, the first year that Governor Bentley could have expanded Medicaid in the state, 10 hospitals have closed. There are 12 additional hospitals in the state that are expected to close in the next 12-24 months.
Bullock County in Alabama is one location under the threat of losing their only hospital. This county has 33% of the population below the federal poverty level and the average income for a family of four is $23k. It has the highest illiteracy rate in the state at 34%. Its unemployment rate is currently at 7.1%, not the highest in the state per county but significantly above the state rate of 5.8%. The actions of the State Senate reveal their attitude that the individuals and families of Bullock County are throw-away people, regardless of race. Their lives are not worth saving to our elected officials. This is the same Senate that passed a resolution declaring the personhood of the human fetus (they have been moving towards legislating this theological and religious doctrine into law). We need to tell them their actions regarding Medicaid Expansion are immoral and violate their own self-professed values for the sanctity of life. With poverty this high, the people living here are not going to be able to travel an hour plus to a hospital in a bordering county for emergency care let alone treatment for life threatening diseases. Alabama Lives Matter and it is high time that our state legislators not only know it but act accordingly.
Governor Bentley has campaigned on a promise to create jobs in Alabama. He has spent millions of dollars courting international businesses to set up shops in Alabama and has marginal success but not as much success as Medicaid Expansion would have. According to a study by the University of Alabama, 30,000 new jobs would result from the expansion of Medicaid. The Federal government would pay 100% of the expansion cost for the first three years and then reduce that support to 90% in 2020 and thereafter. 30,000 new permanent jobs, not temporary jobs with no benefits like Mercedes is offering in Vance, AL but permanent jobs that have a huge impact on our economic viability as a state. It is projected that over a period of six years the states gross domestic product would increase by $17 Billion and workers’ earnings by $10 Billion. Job creation through Medicaid Expansion literally saves lives but apparently Governor Bentley doesn’t understand because he has refused to expand medicaid. Alabama Lives Matter!
Governor Bentley does not need the approval of the State Senate or the State House to expand or deny Medicaid Expansion. He could begin saving lives today by signing the executive order to expand Medicaid. He could do the right thing even if the motive is ensuring his party’s continued control of the legislature and not for the least of his brothers and sisters in Christ. He is going to need encouragement to do so and needs to know that Alabama Lives Matter regardless of their religious convictions.
What can you do? If you are able come to the State house on Tuesday, April 28. Moral Monday is having a rally outside the State House at 12 Noon and SOS is having a press conference and prayer vigil on the 3rd floor at 12:30 PM. We need you to voice your desire to save lives in Alabama by expanding medicaid. People are dying because our state legislature prefers playing political games rather than addressing the needs of the people of this state. This needs to stop now. Our silence on this issue is condemning lives to death.
Bring this issue to social media. Social media today has become a viable means to create news stories in the mainstream press. This is a life and death issue that needs to be on the minds of every Alabamian. Repost this blog on your Facebook pages and Twitter. Post other stories about medicaid expansion on Facebook and Twitter as well. If you or a loved one are among the 300K in Alabama falling in the gap without medical insurance tell your story of emergency room visits not being a mode of treating illnesses like cancer and diabetes.
Tweets can be sent to @GovernorBentley with the #AlabamaLivesMatter and #ExpandMedicaid and #alpolitics . The #AlabamaLivesMatter will track how many the tweets this campaign sends out. The hashtags ExpandMedicaid and alpolitics will place these tweets before those who are following this issue in Alabama and elsewhere. Here are few examples:
@GovernorBentley save 700 lives this year by signing on to #ExpandMedicaid #AlabamaLivesMatter #alpolitics
@GovernorBentley Create 30K jobs #ExpandMedicaid #AlabamaLivesMatter #alpolitics
@GovernorBentley #ExpandMedicaid and save 12 rural hospitals from closing #AlabamaLivesMatter #alpolitics
You can also tweet House Speaker Rep. Hubbard @SpeakerHubbard using these same hashtags and encourage him to do the right thing regarding medicaid expansion and not pass the Senate resolution to block Medicaid. Look and see if your state senator or representative is on Twitter or Facebook and let them know that Alabama Lives Matter.
Lives are at stake. We need to send the message loud and strong that Alabama Lives Matter and we will not be silent any longer.