Last funding chance for Medicaid faces uphill battle

Last funding chance for Medicaid faces uphill battle

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Lawmakers return Tuesday with one major item on their agenda: the BP settlement bill.

The BP settlement bill was seen as the short-term part of a fix for Medicaid. However, the original plan may need an adjustment as a lottery bill failed to make it out of the legislature.

The BP settlement bill, as it is right now, would cash out the $1 billion dollar settlement the state has, and spend most of the money paying back debts. The remaining money would then be split towards road projects in south Alabama and freeing up $70 million dollars for Medicaid.

However, many lawmakers believe without the long-term funding of a lottery to help pay for Medicaid, more of the BP settlement should be spent on the state's largest agency. The issue is south Alabama lawmakers may not stand for it.

According to Sen. Bill Hightower, he has compromised multiple times on how much money should go to the Gulf region, which was hit the hardest by the oil spill. He wants some money to go towards south Alabama road projects, which he thinks will help the entire state through tourism.

A larger group of senators, like Sen. Arthur Orr, believe the money should instead be sent to help Medicaid for the next few years until costs can be controlled or a long-term solution can be found.

Not all lawmakers are behind either of these two plans, with others having an assortment of different ideas.

Normally a BP settlement bill would only need a simple majority to pass, the issue is neither one of these two major camps seems to have the needed support to cloture, or end debate, on the bill.

With only three days left for lawmakers to work, any side opposed to the group could filibuster till the end of session, killing the bill.

Republicans in the Senate will have a caucus meeting Tuesday to see if they can get on a page, but what happens remains to be seen.

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