Gov. insists he could still recruit jobs to rural areas without - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Gov. insists he could still recruit jobs to rural areas without Medicaid expansion

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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

Gov. Robert Bentley insisted Wednesday morning that he could still recruit industry to rural areas with scarce healthcare resources despite the comments of Dr. David Bronner to the contrary last week.

"That's part of the quality of life that people look at," Gov. Bentley told reporters after an event kicking off the Salvation Army's fundraising efforts for the Christmas season. "It's hard to recruit to rural areas anyway, however the first project I recruited ever as governor was Golden Dragon Copper Tubing."

Bentley points to that plant, a 500-employee facility in Sunny South in rural Wilcox County, as proof that he's already landed major projects in areas without much healthcare infrastructure in place.

The GD Copper Plant in Wilcox County is four football fields long and a football field wide. GD Copper invested $100 million into its Alabama plant, the company's first in the United States.

Dr. David Bronner, the CEO of the Retirement Systems of Alabama, told a conference of attorneys last week that rural areas need hospitals in order for him to successfully recruit jobs on behalf of the RSA and the state of Alabama.

"I cannot get you industry in your county if you don't have a hospital," Bronner told the Beasley Allen conference in Montgomery last week. "How blunt can I be?"

Bronner's criticisms have to do with the governor's refusal to expand Medicaid in Alabama under the federal healthcare law.

Rural hospitals in Alabama could be at risk of closure because of decreased funds coming from Washington. However, those losses could be covered if the state expanded Medicaid because more people would go through hospital doors with health insurance. Several hospitals in Alabama face closure in the next year if they don't receive new revenues.

Bronner told the group, "The governor says everything will be alright. To hell it will be alright."

Gov. Bentley conceded that it is definitely better for communities when they have at least one hospital nearby.

"It always helps to have healthcare in any area," he said.

The deadline for Alabama to commit to expanding Medicaid in order to receive the first installment of funds, roughly $375 million, is Dec. 31, 2013.

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