Medicaid, general fund in trouble as budget passes House committee

(Source: WSFA 12 News)
(Source: WSFA 12 News)

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - A general fund budget that few seem to be happy about passed the House general fund committee Wednesday.

The budget totals $1.8 billion, $700 million of which heads to Medicaid. However, the agency said it needs $785 million.

"So now it's time to have the debate on Medicaid and what we are going to do," said Rep. Steve Clouse, R-Ozark.

However, if funding goes away, Alabamians could be the ones hurting.

"They may no longer have their pediatrician to go to. The rural hospital they may be attending may close -- those sort of things. The things that get them the healthcare they need, would be jeopardized," said Stephanie Azar, Alabama's Medicaid commissioner.

Medicaid covers one fifth of the state. Gov. Robert Bentley said a big hit to Medicaid would be unacceptable.

"No obviously I'd veto that," Bentley said.

However, Clouse said if Bentley decides to veto the general fund, he better do it for the education budget as well.

"If he's going to veto the general fund then he needs to veto the education budget also because his general fund budget was predicated on taking $181 million from education," Clouse said.

Getting money from education seems unlikely, especially as the education budget gains momentum.

So funding for Medicaid seems to be less and less likely.

The budget will likely be on the House floor Tuesday.

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