Alabama Governor Robert Bentley has created a new state task force aimed at improving healthcare in the state. The governor first brought up the idea in his State of the State address. The task force was created through an executive order, and will consist of a panel of 30 stakeholders.
The panel of experts will work together to provide recommendations on how we can improve the quality, accessibility and affordability of healthcare in Alabama. The task force will be led by Dr. Don Williamson, the state Health Officer.
The governor’s office says Alabama ranks among the top 10 states for diabetes and obesity. It also ranks in the top 10 for deaths caused by cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
The state will also establish “Regional Care Organizations” to deal with local populations, although little information exists in terms of detailing what those will look like in practice.
Alabama opted out of running a state-backed health insurance exchange as part of Obamacare and will be impacted depending on how the Supreme Court rules in King v. Burwell. In that case, the plaintiffs argue that subsidized health insurance should only be available on the state exchanges. According to data from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, 165,000 people in Alabama currently receive subsidized healthcare through the federal exchange. If the Court rules in favor of the plaintiffs, those people could be faced with unaffordable premiums.
Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange filed an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs in King v. Burwell.
Nothing in the limited information available about the task force suggests that the state will be looking at ways to deal with the potential impact of that decision, or any other part of the ACA. In fact, based on his comments in the State of the State address Governor Bentley appears to be more interested in going his own way. To wit:
We cannot allow Federal bureaucracy, and the extremely flawed Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to derail our efforts to make sure Alabamians have good quality healthcare, especially the poorest and most vulnerable.
Watch this space.