Lawmakers: Trump win gives them more control over Medicaid

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MORGAN COUNTY, Ala. – A long campaign season is finally over.

Now, Alabama lawmakers say Donald Trump’s presidency could bring relief to a longtime headache.

“Every year, Medicaid has grown by another 130, 150, 200 million dollars,” explained Representative Ed Henry (R-Hartselle).

The Alabama Medicaid plan gets more pricey and our lawmakers can’t do much about it.

“If we want to change it or amend the plan, we have to go back to Washington [D.C.], ask for permission to change the plan,” said Senator Arthur Orr (R-Decatur)

They hope the president-elect will bring more flexibility in the form of state control, so they can make decisions and changes on their own.

“With Trump really looking at going to a block grant style approach to Medicaid anyway, I think it’ll be fundamentally easier to start managing our costs when it comes to Medicaid,” said Rep. Henry.

They’d expect to completely revamp Alabama Medicaid hoping to save money in the form of changes like new restrictions for residents on the plan.

“It would have a phenomenal impact to have a flexible Medicaid program and not be shackled to the rules as set by Washington,” said Sen. Orr. “Give us a block grant within certain confines and let us run and operate our program as best for Alabama as seen by the state of Alabama.”

Senator Orr said they would take a look at the way they handle hospitals and reimbursement rates, as well as adding restrictions for able-bodied people using Medicaid.

“Why not look at putting them on a 5-year plan like we have with SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) or TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), our food stamp-welfare 60 month program.”

Rep. Henry says Medicaid users wouldn’t see a huge change in access, but may see more emphasis placed on proactive wellness versus reactive cures and treatments.

Sen. Orr says raising deductibles and other changes would make sure that taxpayer dollars are going to better use, and would ensure that the state is not taking care of able-bodied people for longer than necessary.

Rep. Henry says there are no plans to expand Alabama Medicaid in the foreseeable future.

Following years of general fund issues, they say an overhaul may stop them from struggling to pay for the system.