Alabama’s unemployment rate hit record lows in the past year, falling below 4 percent, but the number of people enrolled in Medicaid hasn’t decreased.
Medicaid, the health care provider for the state’s poor and disabled, has higher enrollment now than when the unemployment rate hit nearly 12 percent in 2009. September enrollment was up slightly this year compared to September 2017.
While more people are working, not all of them are in jobs that pay enough to get their families off Medicaid, advocates say.
Medicaid’s enrollment is troubling to state lawmakers, who’ve been advised that the way to curtail Medicaid’s ever-expanding cost is to get more Alabamians employed.
“It’s a large concern, why the rolls aren’t shrinking as people get into the workforce,” state Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, said recently. “I remember being told that as unemployment falls, so would Medicaid enrollment.” Read more.
Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama, has introduced a bill that would require a federal agency to show how much states such as Alabama have left on the table by refusing to expand Medicaid.
The Smart Choices Act would mandate that the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission, or MACPAC, annually publish reports showing how much states receive under expanded Medicaid. In particular, the reports would show how much the states that refused expansion under the Affordable Care Act would have gotten if they had joined the program. Read more.