So, a word of warning, and advice, to those Alabamians: Don't be alarmed that several new laws — yes, in a sense, more government — are taking effect today. This is not an occasion to rise up in arms of protest.
In fact, Alabamians should send state Rep. Lea Fite, D-Jacksonville, a collective thank you for his effort on behalf of Alabama women who suffer from breast or cervical cancer. A worthwhile new state law, which Fite sponsored and the state Legislature passed in April, will close a nasty loophole that denied Medicaid coverage to Alabama women who were diagnosed with cancer by their family doctor.
Under the old law, only Medicaid-eligible women who were diagnosed at county health centers were eligible for coverage. That was in inhumane way to help Alabamians in need. Coverage now will go to women diagnosed by providers for the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program or by private doctors identified by the state health department's early detection program.
In other words, approximately 250 Alabamians who have cancer and meet Medicaid-eligible guidelines will receive coverage each year.
Fite, the Associated Press reports, claims a letter from a member of the Steel Magnolias, a Calhoun County breast cancer support group, played a significant role in his sponsoring of this bill, as did his wife, Judy, a 20-year cancer survivor.
Medicaid coverage isn't cost-free, as any good legislator will admit. So it's important to note the price tag of Fite's bill: $3.7 million a year, with a little more than $800,000 a year coming from state coffers. Washington will pick up the rest of the tab.
In a grander sense, Fite's bill represents an example of how state government should work. Goat Hill is often the site of needless posturing and legislative inactivity; sadly, there is much to dislike.
But when state government identifies a loophole that shouldn't exist, aggressively pushes for change and improves the lives of those in need, it's worth recognition and rare praise.
In this case, the Legislature did its job. New laws can be good laws, too.