New study shows number of Alabamians eligible for Medicaid - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

New study shows number of Alabamians eligible for Medicaid

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(Source: MGN) (Source: MGN)
MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

A new study on Wednesday details the people in Alabama who could be eligible for Medicaid expansion, if the state decided to open the program to hundreds of thousands of low-income adults.

Alabama is one of 24, mainly Republican controlled, states that have refused Medicaid expansion saying it's a government overreach. They also say it is too expensive to take in that many more people into a government-funded healthcare program.

One of the most significant findings for supporters of Medicaid Expansion is how many people could get coverage who currently work full time.

According to the study, funded by consumer advocacy group Alabama Arise and left leaning healthcare group Families USA, there are 185,000 working Alabamians who could get coverage through Medicaid expansion.

A key figure that supporters say debunks a myth about who is eligible.

"So there are working adults who don't make enough money to purchase their own coverage or their job does not offer coverage," said Danne Howard. "So the information in the study pretty much confirmed what we've been saying all along."

Among those employed are construction workers, fast food employees, travel agents, and even some janitors and cleaning staff.

Danne Howard, who is with the Alabama Hospital Association, says making sure more people have coverage is crucial to keeping healthcare costs down.

"When uninsured and under insured show up in emergency rooms, it's the only place they have to get care and most of the time it's primary care then someone has to pay for that," Howard said.

Other studies of course have looked at the other economics issues like how much it would cost the state to expand Medicaid for things like administrative costs.

Roughly $700 million a year for six years is perhaps a conservative estimate, but supporters come back and they argue that the roughly $12 billion in economic impact and new federal funds is something that Alabama should get involved with.

Alabama's governor responded to today's study saying that he's committed to fixing Alabama's Medicaid program and not expanding it.

The state is in the midst of Medicaid reform that's aimed at improving health outcomes for the state's existing Medicaid patients.

Copyright 2014 WSFA 12 News.  All rights reserved.

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