Senate Dems introduce first bill to expand Medicaid - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Senate Dems introduce first bill to expand Medicaid

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MONTGOMERY - AL -

Today, New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie changed his mind and decided to expand Medicaid coverage in his state. Alabama Senate Democrats hope Governor Robert Bentley will follow suit. They now have a bill that would require Alabama to participate in Medicaid expansion.

Governor Bentley has made it clear in the past- Alabama will not participate. But Democrats don't understand. They say it will provide coverage to more Alabamians at a low cost and is expected to generate money and jobs.

The Senate Democrats first bill of the 2013 Legislative Session requires Alabama to expand in the Medicaid rollout under the Affordable Healthcare Act beginning in 2014. It would cover three hundred thousand Alabamians.

Democrats say the economic impact would be in the billions and would create new jobs.

For the first three years, Alabama wouldn't pay any additional money. The cost will be shared with the federal government after that.

"It's very obvious we have a shortage of funds. Anytime you have a shortage of funds, you have to have a priority. You have to set the priority. Our priority is people over bricks and mortar," said Senator Rodger Smitherman, (D) Birmingham.

"We can not only heal people but we can offer jobs. Based on a study by UAB, it would generate 20 billion dollars," said Senator Linda Coleman, (D) Birmingham.

All 11 Senate Democrats are sponsoring the bill. They hope the 35 Republicans will lend support as well.

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