Medicaid funding solutions: Is the education budget an option?

Medicaid funding solutions: Is the education budget an option?

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Alabama's Medicaid agency faces an $85 million funding hole, and a special session to fix the problem, seems to be looming.

Last year, lawmakers found themselves in a similar situation, and took $80 million by the way of the use tax to help solve the state's problems.

Lawmakers could soon turn again to education, which has its largest budget since 2008. Some lawmakers could look at the education budget's rolling reserve as justification of moving enough money to Medicaid to solve the problem short term.

Alabama's Department of Education is against any such transfer though, saying there is no surplus and any savings is a sacrifice.

Another issue is that any transfer would not solve the Medicaid problem long term.

"The Education Trust Fund cannot continually be a source of income when the General Fund [Budget] gets low," said Michael Sibley,
the Department of Education's Communications Director.

Education officials say funding for Medicaid is important, but also say lawmakers should not take the money from another program to fund it.

"We are saying that, collectively, we have to come up with a solution that provides adequate healthcare [and] adequate services to the State of Alabama without taking from one to increase the other," Sibley said.

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