New campaign urges Alabama Medicaid expansion - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

New campaign urges Alabama Medicaid expansion

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

A new group led by a former Childrens Hospital Executive has purchased billboards along some of Alabama's busiest highways to raise awareness about what the group believes are the benefits of Medicaid expansion.

"100% of the money that we spend goes into these billboard campaigns," Doug Hoffman, the Engage Alabama's Executive Director said.

The billboard in Montgomery is at the well-traveled interchange where Interstate 65 meets 85. They are black with white writing and even poke fun at the state's marketing campaign aimed at luring manufacturing companies.

They also prominently display what appears to be a tornado of cash leaving Alabama, to symbolize the money Alabama won't obtain with its aversion to Medicaid expansion.

"I think if people know how important this is and how it will affect them, I think people will call governor Bentley and they will call their legislators," Hoffman said.

Medicaid Expansion is a key facet of the Affordable Care Act. Following last year's Supreme Court decision that left the law in place, it allowed states to decide for themselves whether to expand Medicaid to the poor, individuals that make about $16,000 per year and families with incomes around $32,000 per year.

So far 27 states and the District of Columbia have expanded Medicaid, leaving 24, mainly Republican controlled states, that haven't acted to expand the program. Alabama is one of them.

Gov. Robert Bentley has said for nearly two years that Alabama must work to serve its existing Medicaid patients better before it can even consider opening the program to an estimated 250,000 new people.

Hoffman with Engage Alabama says expanding the program that already serves over a million people isn't just about serving those without insurance. He says it could help support healthcare systems and people who already have private insurance.

"Without Medicaid expansion, a lot of rural hospitals could collapse, they could go under. There are already several with negative operating margins and when those hospitals collapse, even those people that do have health insurance in those counties, will no longer have access to an ER," Hoffman said.

Hoffman also warns that the rising cost of uncompensated care, people who show up to hospitals without a way to pay for services, could keep going up which will be felt by people with private insurance, because hospitals will eventually shift the costs to reliable funding sources.

Copyright 2014 WSFA 12 News.  All rights reserved.

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