Will Alabama Save Medicaid with Lottery?

Maybe, but not as soon as Gov. Bentley had hoped.

On Tuesday, Aug. 23, the Alabama House failed to allow a committee meeting to move forward in time to get the lottery proposal, as a constitutional amendment, on the Nov. 8 general election ballot, according to media coverage by AL.com.

Alabama’s Medicaid program faces an $85 million shortfall in state funds for the FY 2017 fiscal year that starts Oct. 1. The legislature is currently meeting in a special session to deal with that deficit and Gov. Bentley’s proposal to put a state lottery on ballot this fall to raise money to fill the deficit. Alabama is one of just six states without a state lottery, according to a recent ABC News story.

The Medicaid deficit is partially linked to the additional funds needed to move the state to managed care. Alabama has not adopted Medicaid eligibility expansion as allowed by the Affordable Care Act.

The lottery is being taken up again today, Thursday, Aug. 25. The lottery proceeds are to be split 90 percent to the General Fund and 10 percent to the Education Trust Fund. The first $100 million of General Fund lottery proceeds are to be earmarked for Medicaid.

However, given the missed deadline to put the issue before voters on the November 2016 presidential election ballot, the next opportunity for voters’ approval of a lottery would be a special election (estimated to cost between $3 million and $4 million) or the Nov. 2018 general election. 

Stay tuned.