HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - A Republican with a lot of power in Montgomery has made an 'about face' on Medicaid.
Representative Steve Clouse now favors the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Clouse was known to support Governor Robert Bentley in opposition of the expansion.
Parker Griffith, who's running for governor, talked with WHNT News 19 about Clouse's new way of thinking.
Griffith wants to be Alabama's 54th governor.
"Because I`ve always spent my career taking care of people. I see the need,” said Griffith.
Griffith, a medical doctor, is running on a plan to reform, retool and expand Medicaid in Alabama.
The former Congressman believes no one needs Washington, DC.
“It's a paralyzed backwater in Washington, DC. Our congress people can't help us. They're polarized fighting amongst themselves. Our executive branch can't help us,” added Griffith.
The former Democrat, turned Republican, turned Independent, and now once again Democrat says he supports expanding Medicaid in Alabama.
Governor Bentley and most state Republicans are against it.
“He has refused to even think about expanding Medicaid. Steve Clouse, Chair of the Ways & Means Committee, has broken from Bentley and said it has to happen,” said Griffith.
Griffith believes Clouse is looking at Medicaid from an economic standpoint and understands the state needs to expand the program.
'”I know that too. I also know, as we delay expanding Medicaid, we are costing lives in Alabama. We are not seeing people early who have early,” added Griffith.
Griffith, who faces one other person in the democratic race for governor, stresses expanding the program could help fight cancer, diabetes, strokes and other sufferings.
He has a message from one doctor to another.
“He's got a MD behind his name. I want Governor Bentley, to say tomorrow, we're going to expand Medicaid. I want him to say that. I want us to do it here in Alabama. Regardless of the politics, we've got lives to saves,” added Griffith.
WHNT News 19 reached out to Rep. Clouse and Griffith's opponent, Kevin Bass, for a comment.
Parker Griffith’s plan to pay third-party insurers to run an expanded Medicaid program in Alabama would waste Medicaid funds that otherwise could be – and should be – used for medical care and could subject them to fees that would discourage them from seeking care, charges Kevin Bass, Democratic candidate for governor.
Bass emailed a response on Monday:
“Democrats have challenged Gov. Bentley’s unacceptable refusal to expand Medicaid,” Bass says. “But instead of trying to maximize the funding available to our citizens, Griffith wants to let private insurers line their own pockets by spending as little as they can get away with.”
We've not heard back from Rep. Clouse.