Special session update: Here’s where things stand.

From: Alabama Arise

Alabama is getting closer to stopping deep Medicaid cuts, but there’s still a long way to go. The House voted 91-10 Wednesday for HB 36, a bill that would use BP oil spill settlement money to address most of Medicaid’s $85 million shortfall. The Senate likely won’t consider the bill until next week, though, and lawmakers still must answer many questions about how much settlement money would be used for coastal roads or debt repayment.

Meanwhile, the Legislature remains deeply divided on multiple lottery proposals as the Legislature returns for Day 5 of the special session. (Click here to read our fact sheet about how lotteries affect low-income people and state revenues.) Arise takes no position for or against the lottery, but it’s important to note that a lottery would not produce revenue in time to fund Medicaid fully in 2017, or to reverse the 30 percent Medicaid payment cuts to pediatricians and other primary care doctors that began Aug. 1.

Even more cuts to our state’s health infrastructure will follow unless lawmakers find an additional $85 million for Medicaid. That would be bad news for the one in five Alabamians covered by Medicaid – mostly children, seniors, and people with disabilities. It would be bad news for rural communities already struggling with limited health care options. And it would be bad news for Alabama’s entire health care system.

Alabama needs adequate, stable Medicaid funding to avoid these cuts, and Medicaid expansion should be part of the long-term solution. Closing the coverage gap for working families would keep workers healthier, create thousands of jobs, and allow the state to reap considerable savings on mental health care and other services. Click here to read our fact sheet on how Medicaid expansion would benefit Alabama’s health, economy and budgets.

The stakes for Alabama’s future are high during this special session. We’ll keep you updated in the coming days on what’s happening and what you can do to help.