ACPP news releases

CHIP renewal is overdue good news for parents of 85,000 Alabama children on ALL Kids

Arise Citizens’ Policy Project policy director Jim Carnes issued the following statement Monday, Jan. 22, 2018, in response to the U.S. Senate’s vote to renew federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for six years:

“The parents of more than 85,000 children with ALL Kids coverage finally received some overdue good news today: Their kids aren’t about to lose health insurance. Congress’ agreement to renew CHIP funding for six years will allow ALL Kids to avoid an enrollment freeze and continue providing life-saving coverage for Alabama children.

“Families across Alabama deserve to breathe a sigh of relief, but it never should have come to this. CHIP funding deserved a quick, straightforward renewal before it expired nearly four months ago. Delaying the renewal and tying it to other important issues was unnecessary and irresponsible.

“A big untold story is the stress that Congress’ inaction placed on millions of hard-working parents across the country who lost the certainty that their children would be able to get the health care they needed. Instead of protecting children’s health coverage, congressional leaders spent month after month trying to undermine the Affordable Care Act. Then they focused on passing a tax bill that disproportionately benefited rich people and large corporations.

“CHIP, known as ALL Kids in Alabama, is a proven success story that played a big part in cutting our state’s uninsured rate for children from 20 percent to just 2.4 percent over the last two decades. Other states have seen similar improvements.

“Letting CHIP funding expire and remain in doubt for months was an attack on families. Congress should make sure this sad chapter can’t be repeated. It’s time to fund CHIP permanently and guarantee that all children can receive the health care they need to grow and thrive.”

2018 legislative update: Bill to ease burden of cash bail on low-income Alabamians clears Senate committee

A bill that would significantly ease the financial burden on low-income Alabamians accused of municipal violations won unanimous Senate committee approval Wednesday. SB 31, sponsored by Sen. Greg Albritton, R-Atmore, would be a major step forward on criminal justice debt reform, which Arise members chose as one of our 2018 issue priorities. The bill cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee 10-0 and awaits a Senate vote.

Under current state law, municipal judges can jail people for many minor violations and misdemeanors pending trial unless they can afford a bond, which may cost hundreds of dollars. When the judges impose bonds, they are not required to ask if defendants are financially able to pay the bond that would allow them to leave jail and go home.

SB 31 would help reduce crowding at municipal jails across Alabama by removing cash bail requirements for people accused of many violations and misdemeanors when those people have not shown a reason to believe that they are a risk to public safety or that they will not show up for court. The bill would not change bond requirements for crimes related to domestic violence or drunken driving.

Many Alabamians live paycheck to paycheck and do not have hundreds of dollars available to spend on a bail bond. This bill would help protect families’ financial well-being by allowing low-income workers not to risk losing their jobs because they cannot bond out of jail after being charged with a minor offense. The measure also would save money for cities, which no longer would have to pay to house and feed people accused of minor crimes until their trials.

By Dev Wakeley, policy analyst. Posted Jan. 10, 2018.

Children's health care takes a back seat as Congress rushes to cut taxes for corporations, wealthy people

Arise Citizens’ Policy Project executive director Kimble Forrister issued the following statement Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017, in response to Congress’ passage of a tax bill that disproportionately benefits rich people and corporations:

“Congress’ misplaced priorities were on clear display today. Nearly 84,000 Alabama children are about to lose their ALL Kids coverage because lawmakers allowed federal funding for it to expire months ago. But instead of solving that problem, Congress hurried to create a new one by increasing the deficit to give huge tax cuts to big corporations and wealthy people.

“This tax plan is a massive giveaway to the rich at the expense of everyday Americans. Over time, it will raise taxes on tens of millions of families at low and middle incomes. It will increase health insurance premiums for millions of people and leave millions more uninsured in exchange for permanent tax cuts for big corporations. And it will drive up the federal deficit, setting the stage for calls to cut Medicare, Medicaid, education, food assistance and other vital services next year.

“Struggling families shouldnt have to pay for tax cuts for rich people. And tens of thousands of Alabama families cant afford for Congress to wait any longer to renew federal funding for the Childrens Health Insurance Program. Lawmakers across Alabama and across the country should commit now to renew CHIP funding before a single child loses coverage and to reject budget cuts that would make it harder for families to make ends meet.

Congress' shameful neglect puts health coverage at risk for 84,000 Alabama children on ALL Kids

Arise Citizens’ Policy Project policy director Jim Carnes issued the following statement Monday, Dec. 18, 2017, in response to the announcement of ALL Kids’ pending termination:

“Tens of thousands of Alabama working families learned today – one week before Christmas – that their children will lose health insurance Feb. 1 if Congress continues to delay funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), known here as ALL Kids. Alabama officials had been holding their breath since Congress failed to reauthorize CHIP funding by Sept. 30. They were hoping reserve funds could tide the coverage over for a few months – surely enough time for Congress to act. But today those hopes were dashed.

“ALL Kids’ announcement that it would stop enrolling children in new coverage on Jan. 1 and end the program entirely a month later strikes a painful blow not only to 84,000 ALL Kids children and their families but also to Alabama’s nationally praised gains in children’s health coverage. In the two decades since ALL Kids became the first state CHIP authorized by Congress, our uninsured rate for children has dropped from 20 percent to 2.4 percent. That record has earned Alabama’s program national recognition as the ‘Star of the South.’

“Ending ALL Kids also places a strain on Alabama’s threadbare General Fund. CHIP funds now pay for the health care of around 75,000 children enrolled in Medicaid, who will continue to receive coverage but at new cost to the state.

“In this shameful development, Congress has turned children’s health care – a vital part of family well-being – into a political football. Toying with children’s coverage creates a health hazard in its own right – and an entirely preventable one. Alabama’s hard decision today is a sign of things to come as other states face the grim realities of Congress’ failure to address children’s health needs. Our lawmakers must come to their senses and act now. Every wasted day puts children’s health in greater danger.”

Congress' tax plan is still a bad deal for everyday Alabamians

Arise Citizens’ Policy Project policy director Jim Carnes issued the following statement Friday, Dec. 15, 2017, in response to the release of Congress’ revised tax bill:

At its core, Congress’ tax plan is a massive giveaway to huge corporations and wealthy people at the expense of working families. This bill is bad for everyday Alabamians, and no amount of tinkering at the edges can change that.

“This bill still will raise taxes on tens of millions of Americans at low and middle incomes, while handing enormous tax breaks to the top 1 percent. It still will leave millions more Americans with no health insurance in exchange for permanent tax cuts for big corporations. And it still will drive up the federal deficit, which congressional leaders have already indicated they will use to justify calls for cutting Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and other vital services next year.

“This tax plan is an ill-conceived rush job, and it’s a raw deal for families across Alabama and across the country. Congress should reject this bill and focus on closing tax loopholes and investing in education, health care, transportation and other services that help struggling families get ahead.”

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