ACPP news releases

Medicaid funding, public transportation highlight Arise's 2018 priorities

New Medicaid revenue and creation of a state Public Transportation Trust Fund are among the goals on Alabama Arise’s 2018 legislative agenda. Nearly 200 Arise members picked the group’s issue priorities at its annual meeting Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017, in Montgomery. The seven goals chosen were:

  • Tax reform, including untaxing groceries and closing corporate income tax loopholes;
  • Adequate funding for vital services like education, health care and child care, including approval of new tax revenue to prevent Medicaid cuts;
  • Consumer protections to limit high-interest payday loans and auto title loans in Alabama;
  • Dedicated state revenue for the Alabama Housing Trust Fund;
  • Reforms to Alabama’s death penalty system, including a moratorium on executions;
  • Creation of a state Public Transportation Trust Fund; and
  • Reforms to Alabama’s criminal justice debt policies, including changes related to cash bail and driver’s license revocations for minor offenses.

“All Alabamians deserve equal justice and an opportunity to build a better life for themselves and their families,” Alabama Arise state coordinator Kimble Forrister said. “We’re excited to continue our work for policy changes that would make it easier for hard-working Alabamians to get ahead.”

More than one in five Alabamians – almost all of whom are children, seniors, pregnant women, or people with disabilities – have health coverage through Medicaid. That coverage plays an important role in keeping hospitals and doctors’ offices open across the state, especially in rural areas.

“Medicaid is the backbone of Alabama’s health care system, and we must keep it strong,” Forrister said. “The Legislature needs to step up and approve new, sustainable revenue for Medicaid in 2018. It’s time to stop the annual funding battles and ensure all Alabamians have access to health care.”

Lack of adequate transportation is another major challenge that limits economic growth and erects barriers to daily living for many low-income residents and people with disabilities across Alabama. Arise will push for creation of a state Public Transportation Trust Fund as a step toward closing that gap. A bill to create a trust fund passed the Senate this year and has momentum heading into 2018.

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Alabama's rate of uninsured children plunged to 2.4 percent in 2016

Nearly 49 of every 50 children in Alabama had health coverage in 2016, according to U.S. Census data released the week of Sept. 12, 2017. Alabama’s share of uninsured children fell to 2.4 percent last year, far below the national average and an improvement on the state’s 2015 rate of 3.1 percent.

A huge piece of the credit for those recent coverage gains belongs to Medicaid and ALL Kids, Arise Citizens’ Policy Project executive director Kimble Forrister said Thursday. Together, the programs cover nearly 800,000 Alabama children who live in households with low or moderate incomes.

“All children deserve consistent, appropriate health care, and Alabama does a good job of helping them get it,” Forrister said. “Medicaid and ALL Kids help kids stay healthy so they can learn, play and thrive. It’s essential to ensure these programs have the funding they need to continue providing health coverage for our most vulnerable residents.”

Alabama’s low rate of uninsured children stands out even more when considering that nearly one in four children (or 24.3 percent) in the state lived in poverty last year. That rate was the sixth highest in the country and far worse than the 19.1 percent national rate. Overall, 17.1 percent of Alabamians lived below the poverty line in 2016, and 9.1 percent of the state’s residents lacked health insurance.

Congressional decisions in the coming weeks will shape the future of Medicaid and ALL Kids for years to come. Federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (known as ALL Kids in Alabama) is set to expire Sept. 30 unless Congress renews it. And a health care plan offered by Sens. Bill Cassidy, R-La., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., would impose Medicaid funding caps that would force deep cuts to coverage for children, seniors, and people with disabilities over time.

“Children’s health care is too important to be left up to chance,” Forrister said. “We urge Congress to protect Medicaid and ALL Kids and work together in a bipartisan way to make health care more accessible and more affordable for all Americans.”

Click here for a PDF version of this news release.

New Alabama Medicaid reform plan must include strong consumer engagement and oversight

Arise Citizens’ Policy Project policy director Jim Carnes issued the following statement Thursday, July 27, 2017, in response to Alabama Medicaid’s announcement that it will pursue an “alternative” to the regional care organization (RCO) reform plan:

“Alabama Medicaid’s decision to end its effort to develop homegrown managed care through regional care organizations is a disappointment but not a surprise. We’ve seen the Legislature’s support for the plan wane since it passed unanimously in 2013, as expectations for its budgetary impact shifted. Medicaid policy changes promised by Congress and the White House after the November election further clouded the prospects for RCO success.

“From the start, Arise has believed that strong consumer oversight is an essential component of Medicaid reform. That’s why we’ve worked hard with our partners at the Disabilities Leadership Coalition of Alabama to fulfill the consumer engagement role spelled out for us in the RCO law. We regret that this innovative, collaborative experiment has run aground, but we welcome the opportunity to apply those same consumer-focused principles in whatever alternative reforms Medicaid pursues.

“State ‘flexibility’ for Medicaid is a hot topic in Washington right now, and RCOs were a good example of state-based decision-making about health care delivery. But ‘flexibility’ cannot be a code word for undermining the basic promise of Medicaid by cutting essential benefits, shortchanging health care providers or taking away coverage from children, seniors, pregnant women, and people with disabilities across Alabama. Medicaid is the backbone of our state’s health care system, and we must keep it strong.”

ACA repeal plans would hurt everyday Alabamians

Arise Citizens’ Policy Project policy director Jim Carnes issued the following statement Tuesday, July 25, 2017, in response to the U.S. Senate vote to begin limited debate on repealing the Affordable Care Act:

“The Senate’s 51-50 vote to fast-track a health care plan before even deciding which plan to consider was beyond reckless, but this process is far from over. Senators should oppose any bill that would increase insurance costs for struggling families or send us back to the bad old days of limiting benefits and discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions. We especially urge lawmakers to reject cruel cuts to Medicaid, which provides essential health coverage for children, seniors, pregnant women, and people with disabilities across Alabama and across the country.

“Every health care plan that Congress has considered so far this year would send out-of-pocket costs soaring and would leave millions more Americans, including tens of thousands of Alabamians, without health coverage. If ‘higher costs and a higher uninsured rate’ is your answer on health care, you’re asking the wrong question.

“The Senate should take a deep breath and work together in an open, thoughtful, bipartisan way to preserve the Affordable Care Act’s consumer protections, reduce insurance costs and extend quality, affordable health care to all Americans.”

Now is the time to repair, not repeal, the Affordable Care Act

Arise Citizens’ Policy Project executive director Kimble Forrister issued the following statement Tuesday, July 18, 2017, in response to the collapse of U.S. Senate efforts to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act:

“The defeat of the Senate’s awful health care bill was a victory for Alabama families. This cruel plan would have gutted Medicaid, which provides essential health coverage for children, seniors, and people with disabilities in every corner of our state, to pay for huge tax cuts for rich people and big corporations. It would have hammered rural hospitals and nursing homes while sending insurance costs soaring for many older Alabamians. And it would have sent us back to the bad old days of limiting benefits and discriminating against folks with pre-existing conditions.

“Powerful advocacy from everyday people across Alabama and across the country stopped the bad Senate bill in its tracks. We urge senators to stop trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act and start trying to make it work better for everyone. Our lawmakers should work together in an open, thoughtful, bipartisan way to strengthen the ACA, reduce insurance costs and extend quality, affordable health care to all Americans.”

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