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Medicaid expansion would be a huge plus for Alabama's working adults
The number of people without health care coverage in Alabama remained high in 2013, according to Census Bureau data released Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014. More than one in five working-age Alabamians, and more than one in eight Alabamians overall, lacked health insurance last year. The state's uninsured rate showed no progress between 2012 and 2013.
Medicare, Medicaid and ALL Kids play a significant role in ensuring health coverage for children and seniors in Alabama. Nearly 96 percent of children were insured last year, as were almost all seniors. By expanding Medicaid to cover more people, Alabama could boost the number of low-income, working-age adults who have health insurance, ACPP executive director Kimble Forrister said.
"We have the chance to help those who can't afford health insurance receive the care they need at a very low cost to the state," Forrister said. "Medicaid expansion would be good for our residents, good for our hospitals and good for our economy. It would be a mistake to let this opportunity pass."
Alabama one of four states with no state-level EITC or minimum wage
Alabama is one of only four states with neither a state minimum wage nor a state-level Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), according to a recent report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), a nonprofit research organization in Washington, D.C. By adopting these two policies, which the CBPP calls "twin pillars of making work pay" for low-income families, Alabama could seize two powerful opportunities to boost consumer spending, reduce income inequality and lift thousands of families out of poverty.
"Too many working Alabamians can't afford basics like nutritious food, decent housing and reliable transportation because their wages are simply too low," ACPP executive director Kimble Forrister said. "A state EITC and a higher state minimum wage would allow hundreds of thousands of hard-working Alabamians to spend a little more at the grocery store or the drugstore. These policies also would make it easier to pay for quality child care, emergency car repairs and other things that allow people to keep working."
D.C. Circuit's move to rehear ACA case is good news for Alabama consumers
ACPP policy director Jim Carnes issued the following statement Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014, in response to news that the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit will reconsider a ruling that premium tax credits under the Affordable Care Act don’t apply to consumers in Alabama and other states that don’t operate their own health insurance marketplaces:
“Everyone deserves access to affordable health coverage, no matter where they live. The D.C. Circuit’s announcement today means that protection may end up being recognized once and for all despite all the arguments that have thrown it into doubt. Already, more than 80,000 Alabamians have qualified for tax credits to lower their insurance premiums under the Affordable Care Act, and thousands more will get financial help with new coverage this fall. Today’s action indicates there is a growing consensus that the ACA is here to stay.”
Report shows Alabama needs to do more to fight hunger
ACPP executive director Kimble Forrister issued the following statement Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014, after the release of a new U.S. Department of Agriculture report showing that Alabama was among the 10 states with the largest number of households where food was often scarce or hunger was a major problem in 2011-13:
“Hunger is a huge challenge in Alabama when one in six households say they often couldn’t put enough food on the table to ensure a healthy, active life for everyone in their family. And it’s even more troubling that 7 percent of our households say they had to miss meals or disrupt their normal diets because they didn’t have enough money for food.
“Policymakers can take three big steps to fight hunger, which threatens the health of our children, our workforce and our economy. First, Alabama should make food more affordable by ending its state grocery tax and replacing the lost revenue responsibly. Second, Alabama should lift the lifetime ban that blocks low-income people with a past felony drug conviction from getting nutrition assistance to help feed their families. And third, more school districts with large numbers of low-income children should provide no-cost meals to all of their students next year by participating in the new community eligibility program.
“Far too many of our friends and neighbors struggle with hunger, but we can do something about it. With these three policy changes, our lawmakers can bring Alabama much closer to the day when no one has to go to bed hungry.”
The State of Working Alabama 2014: On Labor Day, Alabama workers face high unemployment, lost jobs, stagnant wages and increased inequality
Many Alabama workers may find little reason to celebrate as we approach this Labor Day. The Great Recession is officially over, but the average Alabama worker has not yet recovered from it, as employment and jobs continue to lag behind and wages remain stagnant.
Policy analyst Carol Gundlach's new report, part of ACPP's State of Working Alabama 2014 series, examines the difficult employment, job and wage trends that working Alabamians face, as well as the growing income inequality between the top 1 percent and the rest of the population. The report also considers how Medicaid expansion, investments in infrastructure, an end to the state sales tax on groceries and other policies could help boost job growth, reduce unemployment and support Alabama workers.
The Basics: WIC Saves Lives, Prevents Malnutrition
Congress established WIC in the 1970s to try to reduce disturbingly high infant death rates, and the program has been a success story ever since. Infant mortality rates in Alabama and nationwide have fallen by nearly two-thirds since the creation of the program officially known as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children.
WIC has saved tens of thousands of lives and improved the health of hundreds of thousands, all while pumping billions of dollars a year into the economy. But WIC also sometimes runs out of money and has to remove participants until the next budget year. This fact sheet by ACPP policy analyst Carol Gundlach looks at what makes WIC so effective and considers some of the near-term challenges that may lie ahead for the program.