Luther Strange: Alabama ‘did the right thing’ by not expanding Medicaid

The system, Strange said, is failing.

In this July 11, 2017 file photo, Sen. Luther Strange, R-Ala. responds to questions during a TV news interview on Capitol Hill in Washington. A super PAC supporting Strange launched another ad spotlighting U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks’ past criticisms of President Donald Trump in a bid to keep the conservative congressman out of a runoff in Alabama’s heated Senate primary. The advertisement is the latest move in a strategy to harness Trump’s continued popularity in the deeply red state to benefit Strange. It banks on the idea that anti-Trump sentiments will turn off GOP voters. CREDIT: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File
In this July 11, 2017 file photo, Sen. Luther Strange, R-Ala. responds to questions during a TV news interview on Capitol Hill in Washington. A super PAC supporting Strange launched another ad spotlighting U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks’ past criticisms of President Donald Trump in a bid to keep the conservative congressman out of a runoff in Alabama’s heated Senate primary. The advertisement is the latest move in a strategy to harness Trump’s continued popularity in the deeply red state to benefit Strange. It banks on the idea that anti-Trump sentiments will turn off GOP voters. CREDIT: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File

Alabama “did the right thing” to help low-income and disabled people in the state by not expanding its Medicaid program, according to Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL).

“We have a failing Medicaid system, and you know who that’s going to hurt in the end are the most vulnerable in people in our society,” Strange said in an interview Sunday.

But the very next day, President Donald Trump’s own Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis contradicted the freshman senator and and recommended increased Medicaid spending, calling it “the single fastest way to increase treatment availability across the nation.”

Strange, in the interview, did not expand on why the thinks the Medicaid system is failing, but other conservatives have gone so far as to say the Medicaid expansion is to blame for the opioid epidemic.

“Has Medicaid made the opioid epidemic worse?” The National Review wondered. TNR decided it has.

But the commission, chaired by Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, decided the exact opposite. The best way to “rapidly increase treatment capacity,” the letter sent to the president Monday said, is to increase federal funding of treatment options under Medicaid.

Strange’s position reflects the conservative attempts to make major cuts to Medicaid as part of the as-of-yet unsuccessful effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

Strange is locked in a contentious primary with Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), and both men have been working to harness President Trump’s popularity in their home state.

Strange echoed the president— and his colleague Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) — in the interview Sunday, calling for Republicans to return to their efforts to repeal Obamacare, despite Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell having said it’s “time to move on.”

“Alabama did the right thing. We didn’t expand our program,” Strange said. “We tried to deal with the disabled, the poor, and they’re going to be the ones that suffer, so we can’t let that slide. We have to get back on that subject.”