Medicaid offical testifies in Hubbard trial, Railroad crossing safety

May 26, 2016

State Medicaid officials say they opposed Medicaid language temporarily inserted in the 2013 budget that could have benefited a client of House Speaker Mike Hubbard.

Medicaid Commissioner Stephanie Azar testified today that Medicaid officials were caught off guard by language added in the House.  It would have set requirements for any pharmacy benefit manager the state might hire.

Former State Health Officer Don Williamson testified that he was "surprised" when he learned Hubbard had a consulting contract with the only company that would qualify for the work. Williamson said Hubbard agreed to remove the language when Medicaid officials raised concerns.

On cross-examination, defense lawyer Bill Baxley tried to suggest that a former lawmaker, who has already pleaded guilty to an ethics violation, was responsible for the language.

Testimony continues Friday.

Tuscaloosa is the next stop for a yearlong campaign on railroad crossing safety.

City officials will meet with members of the non-profit group Operation Lifesaver to talk about improving Alabama’s ranking for railroad crossing accidents. The Federal Railroad Administration says Alabama is number six in the country for railroad crossing collisions and number fourteen for fatalities.    Operation Lifesaver’s Nancy Hudson says the signs that read railing crossing are legally binding…

“That sign should be treated like a yield sign at the intersection of two streets. So, whether there are signals or gates, that’s good—but, the cross buck means we’re supposed to yield.”

A cross buck sign is the “X” shaped sign that reads Railroad Crossing. Hudson says Alabama ranks alongside more populated states because of the six thousand crossings and thirty five hundred miles of track here.

The Memorial Day travel season is here and travel destinations around Alabama are gearing up for visitors. Triple-A predicts thirty eight million Americans will hit the road over the holiday, which marks the unofficial start of summer.

Jeanenne Tornatore** is the Senior Editor for She says the southeast has several destination spots that offer travelers some terrific experiences for the long weekend

“Regionally I think the southeast is a big destination both for people that live in that region for drive get-a-ways for the holiday weekend and overall for summer travel, but also for people coming from other parts of the country to visit I mean there’s a lot of great historic and iconic destinations”

Tornatore says that the Alabama gulf coast and cities like Mobile should see a lot visitors come through for the weekend as well.