Study: States could lose billions by not expanding Medicaid - WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

Study: States could lose billions by not expanding Medicaid

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Alabama is one of 14 states where officials have said they will not expand Medicaid. The decision could cost billions if a new study is correct. Alabama is one of 14 states where officials have said they will not expand Medicaid. The decision could cost billions if a new study is correct.
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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

According to a new study that examined Medicaid expansion under the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, the 14 states that have outright refused to expand their programs, could stand to lose millions.

"We feel like there's a steady drumbeat" said Jim Carnes, with Alabama Arise, a group that has advocated for expansion of Medicaid in Alabama.

[ON THE WEB - Read the full study]

The study, conducted by the nonpartisan Rand Corporation, concluded that the 14 states that have said to date that they will not expand their Medicaid programs could lose as much as $8.4 billion in federal funds collectively. All of the states have conservative leanings on the state level and they include the likes of Alabama, North Carolina, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas.

Carnes argues that Alabama has more to lose than gain by choosing to stay on the sidelines of what is one of the lynchpins of the federal healthcare law.

"This could be an economic engine" Carnes said. "If this was an industry, we would be rolling out the red carpet to do what we could to make it come here."

According to a different study, conducted by economists at UAB Medical Center, Alabama could reap an economic impact in the billions and it would create tens of thousands of new jobs.

Alabama's Gov. Robert Bentley has repeatedly said that he won't expand what he refers to as, "a broken system."

Gov. Bentley has already signed into law a Medicaid reform measure that would modify the program by creating regional care organizations tasked with coordinating care for patients that live in specific geographic areas of the state. He will hold a ceremonial bill signing in Montgomery on Thursday.

The study also pointed out that all 50 states have taxpayers whose contributions to the federal government will go toward implementing the federal healthcare law.

Even Gov. Bentley admitted in an April 2013 interview that Alabama was going to foot the bill for the entire federal healthcare law. Gov. Bentley said at the time, "They can say this is free money coming into the state. It's not free money because we're paying for it and we're $16.6 trillion dollars in debt right now and you add $6 trillion to this debt that we already have and we're going bankrupt."

Carnes with Alabama Arise reiterated the taxpayer argument saying that Alabama has the opportunity for those tax dollars to be spent in Alabama, instead of a state like New York, California, or Iowa, states that have decided to expand Medicaid.

"We are sending tax dollars away to other states to take advantage of this opportunity and so Alabamians need to get a piece of that." Carnes said.

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