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Pharmacy Choice - Pharmaceutical News - A senator's and senate hopefuls' reactions to school Medicaid concerns - September 22, 2017

Pharmacy News Article

 7/16/17 - A senator's and senate hopefuls' reactions to school Medicaid concerns

MONTGOMERY ? A sitting U.S. senator and some of those seeking to replace him had different insights about the concerns of education officials regarding potential changes to Medicaid funding for schools.

"State leadership in education is both critical and constitutional, and following one unfunded federal mandate with another unfunded federal mandate defies common sense," Sen. Luther Strange said last week. "I'm committed to making sure that Alabama is not punished for running an efficient Medicaid program that delivers care to the most vulnerable in our state."

Strange faces a crowded GOP primary field Aug. 15.

Candidate and state Sen. Trip Pittman, R-Daphne, said Friday he was unaware school officials are concerned about potentially losing tens of millions of dollars a year in federal Medicaid reimbursements for eligible students with special needs.

But as Senate General Fund budget chairman, he understands the concern. If Medicaid spending is block granted or capped, state leaders could have to prioritize spending.

"Making hard cuts is a difficult thing to do," Pittman said.

The state has the third lowest per-capita spending in the nation for a "bare-bones" Medicaid program, he said.

"We don't want to be penalized for being lean," Pittman said. "Block grants without room for growth is penalizing us for being good."

And like Strange, Pittman criticized a federal mandate ? that schools provide certain services to students with special needs ? that's not fully funded.

Roy Moore, the state's former chief justice, went farther in his response.

"The federal government has no constitutional role in either education or health care," Moore said. "Engaging in these issues leads not only to tyranny, but also to inefficiency. All reforms will require a commitment to rearranging roles and funding.

"Our U.S. Congress and the state Legislature will need to work together to prioritize spending, balance their budgets, and stop making policy based on electoral scare tactics."

As senator, Moore said he'd work to make that reorganization a reality.

Congressman Mo Brooks, who met with Limestone County Superintendent Tom Sisk last week about Medicaid funding in schools, could not be reached for comment.

© © Copyright 2017 TimesDaily, Tennessee Valley Media Inc. - All Rights Reserved. Restricted use only.

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