Alabama needs strong leadership from Gov. Robert Bentley as the state undertakes its role in the federal health care law.
Barack Obama's re-election Tuesday did more than return the president to the White House for four more years.
The election made clear the federal health care law will not be repealed.
Now, Alabama's political leaders should stop stalling and do their part to cover the 681,437 Alabamians who have no health insurance. This includes 29,894 residents of Colbert, Franklin, Lauderdale and Lawrence counties.
With more than 40 years experience as a medical doctor, Gov. Robert Bentley is in a unique position to lead the implementation of the law in Alabama. While he has joined other state leaders in fighting the law, it is clear the battle is futile. He should take what might seem a negative development from a political standpoint and use his medical expertise to transform it into a positive humanitarian effort.
Yes, Alabama faces a steep challenge in paying its future share of the Medicaid expenses that will be required under the new law. But, if implemented correctly, the measure will not be the disaster that much of the state's GOP leadership has predicted.
State Senate Minority Leader Roger Bedford, D-Russellville, says the health care law will be an economic stimulus, especially in rural areas, as more people seek medical and pharmaceutical help.
For every dollar paid by state government for Medicaid, Alabama receives $2 from the federal government. The state has done too little to take advantage of that generous formula.
It is true that Medicaid spending consumes about one-third of the state's budget, even without the health care law. But that is more a case of inadequate revenue for all state government than overspending on Medicaid.
Bentley made a positive move in late October by creating the Alabama Medicaid Advisory Commission to examine how the state funds Medicaid and to suggest changes. While part of the commission's task is to look for efficiencies in the Medicaid program, a discussion of new revenue must also play a role.
When the state doubles its money for every dollar spent on Medicaid, it cannot go wrong by spending more on the program.
During his campaign for governor, Bentley was fond saying Alabama needs a doctor. His political slogan carries a literal interpretation for the state's 681,437 uninsured residents.