Gov. Bentley says Black Belt moving ahead; not prepared for Medi - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Gov. Bentley says Black Belt moving ahead; not prepared for Medicaid expansion

THOMASVILLE, AL (WSFA) -

During a meeting of the Black Belt Commission in Thomasville Wednesday, Alabama's governor says he likes what he sees and hears from people working to move the region out of the economic doldrums.

"These things I'm hearing, they're great" Gov. Robert Bentley told the crowd of about 100 at the Thomasville Civic Center.

The governor said in order to increase business involvement and development in the depressed region, the leaders there need to keep doing what they're doing and the state has to continue lending its support.

"Once you have skilled workforce training and once you have and once you have a skilled workforce available they'll look at it and they'll look at this area just like they'll look at any other part of the state" Bentley said.

The region saw some of the most significant development in years less than two months ago when the Golden Dragon Copper Tubing Company opened its first American facility in rural Wilcox County, a few minutes from Thomasville in Sunny South, AL. The plant employs 300 people and the company has already announced plans for two expansions on the site.

"That project alone can change this region" Gov. Bentley says.

One participant, John Zippert who publishes the Greene County Democrat newspaper, challenged the governor on a way to improve the quality of life in the counties that make up the Black Belt.

"I would like for you to reconsider your position on Medicaid expansion" Zippert said to the governor in front of the audience. "There are people here with health needs that could be helped if they had Medicaid coverage."

Governor Bentley later told the audience that he wants to see a day when Alabama no longer needs Medicaid at all with everyone having a good paying job with private health insurance. What the governor describes would require the creation of potentially hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Bentley later said, "Medicaid is no good unless you have providers and we must have providers and we must provide a way to have someone see these patients​." 

"We need nurse practitioners, we need physicians' assistants. They have very few of them so you need to work on that part more than you do the Medicaid expansion."

Copyright 2014 WSFA 12 News.  All rights reserved.

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