Alabama pediatricians have dire predictions for what Medicare cuts could do for the state’s children.

Today, the Alabama Chapter for the American Academy of Pediatrics held a conference call for its members, previewing the impact of Medicaid funding for state pediatric care.

Chapter President Cathy Wood said more than 500 thousand residents on Medicaid in Alabama are children.

“Most of these kids are living on the fringe,” she said. “And if you take away their health care then you pretty much doom them to a much more stressful existence.

Wood said a survey of pediatricians from across the state revealed that half of them would stop taking new Medicaid patients if the cuts are enacted. In addition, half would be forced to lay off workers and one in six said they would retire or close their practice and move to another state.

“These kids need homes for their medical care,” Wood said. “They don’t need emergency rooms, they don’t need pieced-together, taped-together delivery of care. And if these Medicaid cuts happen, it’s going to disrupt a very fragile system.”

Meanwhile, lawmakers have scheduled a joint meeting Wednesday to discuss Medicaid funding.

Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard said last week that lawmakers plan on questioning Medicaid officials about the agency’s finances and costs.

Medicaid Commissioner Stephanie Azar has said the program will have to make drastic cost reductions.

Lawmakers recently overrode Gov. Robert Bentley’s veto, voting in a general fund budget that steers only $700 million into Medicaid next year, $85 million short of what the agency said it needs.

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