Obama visits Birmingham, Medicaid expansion, tuberculosis testing at Homewood High School

Mar 26, 2015

President Obama visited Alabama to talk about economics. The Commander-in-chief arrived in Birmingham aboard Air Force One for a speech at Lawson State Community College.

The President told the crowd what’s good for the middle class is good for America. The White House is criticizing a budget plan in congress which includes tax breaks for the wealthy.

Mr. Obama also targeted Pay Day Loan operations which charge high interest rates…

 "You take out a $500 loan at the rates that they're charging at these payday loans, sometimes at 450% interest, you end up paying over a thousand dollars in interest and fees on the $500 that your borrowed."

This is Mr. Obama’s second visit this month to Alabama. The President took a symbolic walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge on the fiftieth anniversary of the attack on voting rights marchers known as “bloody Sunday.”

More than 1,000 students and staff at Homewood High School in suburban Birmingham await the results of tuberculosis tests after a freshman tested positive for the disease.

School officials say around 85 percent of the student body was tested for the potentially serious infectious disease that mostly affects the lungs.

Jefferson County health officials administered the first of a two-part test Wednesday. Officials will give the second portion Friday.

Not all students exposed to TB will develop an active case and health officials say those who do contract the disease can be treated.

While the state’s lawmakers are out of the capitol until next week, one of the main topics still yet to be discussed is Medicaid Expansion.  Alabama is one of 19 states that opted out of the program that was part of the Affordable Care Act.

The program is designed to help low income families and individuals afford health care instead of paying for medical expenses out of pocket.

Republican senator Cam Ward says this issue is not a legislative problem because Alabamaians have to vote on the measure…

“I just don’t hear the clamoring from the voters.  I get people from time to time that want it, typically a lot of mental health advocates who are going to have their benefits increase as a result of this.  We’re just not hearing people say, ‘Yes I want to raise taxes to increase Medicaid.’ That’s just something you don’t hear.”

Ward adds the state has bigger issues right now, mainly the state’s estimated $700 million shortfall.  He is optimistic a separate program from the ACA’s Medicaid expansion will happen.