The Big Picture –
By Glynn Wilson –
It has now become quite obvious that Alabama Governor Robert Bentley, a doctor who claims to be a Christian, has turned his back on the tired, the poor, the sick and even mainstream working class citizens who are desperate to get health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act, which is now the law of the land.
Why has he done this?
For reasons you won’t find out in Alabama’s conservative print, television, radio or even Web news outlets, except for this one.
He is withholding support for opting in to Obamacare and expanding Medicaid in the state simply for political reasons, to obtain the votes of ignorant, conservative, tea party Republicans in next year’s elections.
This story was broken just the other day by the only news organization in Alabama that is telling the people like it is with the guts to say what needs to be said. Yes, that’s right, The Locust Fork News-Journal, an alternative, independent news organization building the economy for the new Web Press.
And the funny thing is, there is not even one potentially electable Democrat who has been willing to raise this issue publicly, when in fact, it could be a potentially winning election issue — if there was an opposition party candidate who had the guts to take on the challenge.
This is a sad state of affairs.
A new report reveals that governors and lawmakers in 25 states who reject federal support to expand state Medicaid programs are sacrificing thousands of lives and pushing away enormous economic development benefits that come with $426 billion in direct funding over 10 years.
Even financial expert David Bronner, who has successfully run the Retirement Systems of Alabama over the past few decades, has called on the governor to do the right thing for economic reasons.
The Progressive Democrats of America in Alabama have been holding rallies challenging Governor Bentley to do the right thing and expand Medicaid in the state before the critical deadline passes on December 31.
Now, U.S. Representative Terri Sewell has issued a statement urging the state to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.
“Beginning in January, millions of Americans will begin receiving health coverage under the Medicaid expansion in their states,” Sewell said. “Because of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), states can choose to expand their Medicaid coverage to all adults with incomes below 133 percent of poverty.”
These states receive 100 percent of federal funding to cover these costs for the first three years and 90 percent or more in federal support in the following years, she said. If the state of Alabama takes advantage of the Medicaid expansion opportunity provided under the ACA, there will be 235,000 fewer uninsured Alabamians by 2016.
“It would therefore be economically and morally responsible for Alabama to expand Medicaid for the working poor and elderly across our state,” she said. “It is my hope that our state will take the steps necessary by December 31st to ensure that these 235,000 Alabamians are given the healthcare they deserve.”
Will the governor respond? Or will he continue kowtowing to the crazy, right-wing tea party vote to ensure his reelection next year?
So far, he has no viable opposition — on the right or the left — in the Republican primary or from the Democrats. What is he waiting for?
It’s the Christmas season. Perhaps a ghost will appear in the governor’s dreams between now and December 25 and he will wake up and decide not to be Scrooge and heed the call for help from thousands of Alabamians who desperately need health care NOW!
The president has offered to send more than a billion dollars our way. Can this poor state really afford to thumb its nose at that kind of federal help — just because the president is black and a Democrat?
Are we still so stuck in the post Civil War mindset that we are willing to literally watch people die just to make a political point? Apparently so.
Governor Bentley has a chance to lead the people beyond the political rhetoric and into a new promised land where no one has to die because of a pre-existing condition or because a capitalist hospital won’t treat them because they do not have the money to pay.
Is he a leader? Or a follower of the tea party? Will he go down in history as a fluke and a baffoon just like his conservative Republican predecessors Fob James and Guy Hunt?
We will see what his true character is by the end of this month.
© 2013, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.