MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) — The battle on whether to expand Medicaid health care coverage under the federal health care law is still playing out in the state of Alabama.
Without the expansion, thousands of Alabamians have lost vital parts of their Medicaid coverage within the past month.
This has affected the amount of treatment healthcare facilities can provide.
June Davis of Madison County is 70 years old. She told News 19 that she relies on doctor visits and prescription drugs to manage her kidney issues and chronic pain.
“You have to decide whether you’re going to eat or pay for your doctor’s visits or pay for your prescriptions,” Davis explained.
Davis is allowed only 14 doctors’ visits and just 5 vital medications per calendar year before she has to pay for her meds out of pocket while living on a fixed income. She says her Medicaid coverage has been severely limited.
“If you have multiple doctors, then halfway through the year you have to start paying out of pocket for each doctor’s visit. You barely have enough money for food or anything,” said Davis.
Many of the elderly in North Alabama who have relied on Medicaid coverage for routine care are now in danger.
Davis is among tens of thousands who lost coverage under the state’s Medicaid health insurance program for low-income and disabled residents.
The federal government provided billions in federal aid to states on the condition that they wouldn’t remove people from Medicaid until the Covid-19 public health emergency ended.
The state of Alabama was not one of them and is now in a healthcare access crisis.
“We need Medicaid expansion to help us take care of people who are in desperate need of health care,” said Mary Elizabeth Marr, Director of Thrive Alabama.
Marr and local leaders have been pushing lawmakers to allocate funds from the federal American Rescue Plan Act to increase Medicaid eligibility to an estimated 61,000 Alabamians who have now been dis-enrolled with the pandemic officially done.
“We were aware that it was going to end, but in order for us to be sustainable, we need Medicaid expansion,” said Marr. “Because right now, I am looking at about 40% of our clients that are totally uninsured.”
Thrive Alabama says that those who are uninsured or without Medicaid coverage have been forced to seek care in the hospital emergency rooms.
The topic of Medicaid expansion is at the forefront during this legislative session.