AL lawmakers' lean budget could cripple Medicaid

AL lawmakers' lean budget could cripple Medicaid

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - One third of the way through the legislative session, Alabama lawmakers have taken the first step towards a new state budget. However, Medicaid Commissioner Stephanie Azar says if the budget passes as is, it would cripple Medicaid for the state.

The budget passed out of committee would level fund the state's biggest agency, which said it needs at least $100 million in additional funding.

Gov. Robert Bentley appropriated the additional $100 million in his budget proposal earlier this month, but Bentley paid for it with a transfer of funds from the Education Trust Fund, something lawmakers seem to be unwilling to do.

Lawmakers say taxes are also off the table, so cuts seem to be the only viable option.

Sen. Budget Chairman Trip Pittman said the Senate could appropriate the $100 million to Medicaid if the state cut all other programs by 10 percent statewide. That's something Pittman said those agencies cannot afford.

If no more money is provided, Medicaid said it could mean an end to the transformation of Regional Care Organizations, or RCOs, which have been three years in the making. Commissioner Azar said if the funding is not provided, a federal wavier, which would bring the state more than $700 million dollars would go away.

The bill is expected to be in front of the Senate on Thursday.

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