The success of any state is directly affected by the health of its people, but our state leaders use the health and well-being of the people as a tool to fight ideological battles that go against the best interest of those they serve.
The state’s alternative to Medicaid expansion, authored by my opponent Jim McClendon, has raised the cost of healthcare for Alabamians with disabilities that make less than a thousand dollars a month and it has denied access to healthcare for thousands of Alabama’s working poor.
The Affordable Care Act has passed both houses of the Congress, it has been found to be constitutional by the Supreme Court, Mitt Romney ran on repealing the Affordable Care Act and was soundly beaten, and it was the point of contention that caused a shutdown of United States Government, yet it remains intact.
It is time for our elected leaders in Alabama to realize that the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land, it is not going anywhere and to deny Alabamians the benefits that Medicaid expansion creates because of personal ideological objections is just bad leadership and bad for the majority of Alabamians.
According to a report from the Department of Health Care Organization and Policy at the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s School of Public Health, implementing Medicaid expansion in Alabama would generate between $750 million and $1.6 billion in revenue for the state between 2014 and 2020, while producing between $15.8 billion and 33.6 billion in economic activity and creating over 35,000 jobs in the same period.
Due to the governor’s failure to implement Medicaid Expansion, 191,000 people in Alabama do not qualify for health coverage under Medicaid or the Affordable Care Act. According to a study released by the Kaiser Foundation, Alabama ranks second in the nation for the number of people falling into this “coverage gap.”
When you consider that Alabama is at the bottom of the list in terms of diabetes incidence and obesity; infant mortality and premature death rate; and cardiovascular health, it is easy to see that turning down healthcare for 191,000 Alabamians is just not practical.
Then you have the Alabama legislature failure to pass a sensible medical marijuana law that would provide safe access to hundreds of thousands of Alabamians that are forced to take prescription drugs that are less effective and more dangerous. It does not seem to matter that 76% of Alabamians say that they support such legislation.
When you consider that prescription drugs kill someone every 19 minutes in America, I just cannot understand the logic of forcing patients to take drugs that are highly addictive and deadly when there is a more effective and less dangerous option.
In 2012, my opponent, Jim McClendon, chaired the Alabaman House committee on health, which held a public hearing on medical marijuana. Prior to that meeting, McClendon responded to people who emailed him in support of the legislation by telling them that their emails were harassment.
Showing support for legislation is harassment?
Later that same year, at the request of the House Committee on Health, chaired by Representative Jim McClendon, the Medical Association of the State of Alabama (MASA) conducted a survey of Alabama physicians in order to determine where they stood on the issue of medical marijuana.
The reason for requesting the survey was obvious. Jim McClendon and MASA president Michael Flanagan thought that the physicians in Alabama would reject the use of medical marijuana and that, as they say, would be that.
Exactly how is a survey inconclusive? The doctors answered questions, you add up the “yes” answers for each question, the “no” answers for each question, and you list the appropriate percentages.
The survey that Jim McClendon and Michael Flanagan were counting on to kill this issue has never been released.
Rep. Ron Johnson, a member of the house committee on health, told me that McClendon requested the survey. MASA told the Montgomery Advertiser that the health committee requested the study, Jim McClendon told WBRC 6 that he did not order the survey, but even though the health committee is his responsibility, he has refused to say who ordered the study, or address why the results were not released.
McClendon says that he supports the use of the use of marijuana’s components by the pharmaceutical industry, but is against the medical use of marijuana in its natural form.
Marijuana has been found useful in treating more than 100 medical conditions in its natural form. In being open to the components of marijuana for medical use, but against the use of the plant itself, what my opponent is saying is that he supports medical marijuana as long as the pharmaceutical industry can profit from it.
All the pharmaceutical industry will do is make these “marijuana based medicines” more expensive for the patient, while making it more dangerous to their health. Just like Marinol, which is, basically, medical grade Spice and has been shown to have much more severe side effects than plant based THC.
It is time for the people of district 11 to have a senator who will act in the best interest of their health and not suppress the opinion of Alabama doctors, use their health as a pawn in political games or as a way to make money for his friends at the pharmaceutical industry.