ACPP news releases

Alabama's persistently high rate of uninsured adults shows the need for Medicaid expansion

New U.S. Census data show that the share of uninsured Alabamians increased between 2016 and 2017 and remained higher than the national average. Alabama Arise policy director Jim Carnes issued the following statement in response on Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018:

“The White House’s efforts to undermine the Affordable Care Act and Alabama’s refusal to expand Medicaid are making life worse for hundreds of thousands of people across our state. These bad policy choices are serving as barriers separating people from affordable health coverage.

Alabama’s steady gains in health insurance coverage since 2013 took a turn for the worse last year, this week’s new Census data show. The share of Alabamians without health insurance coverage rose to 9.4 percent in 2017, up from 9.1 percent the previous year and above the national average of 8.8 percent. These are trends in the wrong direction, and they’re the result of intentional policy choices.

“The Trump administration eroded ACA coverage by slashing funding for federal outreach and advertising to promote open enrollment for Marketplace coverage. In Congress, repeated attempts to repeal the ACA created public confusion over the status of the law. And in Alabama, the state’s ongoing refusal to expand Medicaid has left about 300,000 people trapped in a coverage gap, making too much to qualify for Medicaid but too little to receive subsidies for Marketplace plans.

“It’s time to stop undermining health coverage and start investing in it. The White House should stop attacking the ACA. Congress should shore up funding for Marketplace outreach and enrollment assistance. And Gov. Kay Ivey should expand Medicaid to save our rural hospitals, create thousands of jobs and make Alabama healthier.”

Medicaid expansion, end to grocery tax highlight Alabama Arise's 2019 priorities

Medicaid expansion and legislation to end the state sales tax on groceries are among the top goals on Alabama Arise’s 2019 legislative agenda. More than 200 Arise members picked the organization’s issue priorities at its annual meeting Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018, in Montgomery. The seven issues 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 protect and expand Medicaid.
  • State funding for the newly created Public Transportation Trust Fund.
  • Consumer protections to limit high-interest payday loans and auto title loans in Alabama.
  • Legislation to establish automatic universal voter registration in Alabama.
  • Reforms to Alabama’s criminal justice debt policies, including changes related to cash bail and civil asset forfeiture.
  • Reforms to Alabama’s death penalty system, including a moratorium on executions.

“Public policy barriers block the path to real opportunity and justice for far too many Alabamians,” Alabama Arise executive director Robyn Hyden said. “We’re excited to unveil our 2019 blueprint to build a more just, inclusive state and make it easier for all families to make ends meet.”

Alabama’s failure to expand Medicaid to cover adults with low wages has trapped about 300,000 people in a coverage gap, making too much to qualify for Medicaid but too little to receive subsidies for Marketplace coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Expanding Medicaid would save hundreds of lives, create thousands of jobs and pump hundreds of millions of dollars a year into Alabama’s economy. Expansion also would help keep rural hospitals and clinics open across the state.

The state grocery tax is another harmful policy choice that works against Alabamians’ efforts to get ahead. Alabama is one of only three states with no sales tax break on groceries. (Mississippi and South Dakota are the others.) The grocery tax essentially acts as a tax on survival, adding hundreds of dollars a year to the cost of a basic necessity of life. The tax also is a key driver of Alabama’s upside-down tax system, which on average forces families with low and moderate incomes to pay twice as much of what they make in state and local taxes as the richest Alabamians do.

Alabama's costly catch-22 Medicaid waiver plan would punish parents in poverty

Arise Citizens’ Policy Project policy director Jim Carnes issued the following statement Monday, July 2, 2018, in response to Alabama Medicaid’s submission of a “work requirement” proposal for federal approval:

“Alabama Medicaid’s work requirement proposal would create a no-win situation for thousands of parents living in deep poverty. They’ll lose health coverage if they don’t get a job – and if they do.

“This proposal is a catch-22. Because Alabama hasn’t expanded Medicaid, a mother with two kids is ineligible if she works just 10 hours a week at minimum wage. If she met the proposed work requirement, she would earn too much for Medicaid, but not nearly enough to afford private coverage. When parents lose their insurance, children are less likely to have regular doctor visits and more likely to become uninsured themselves.

“On the same day Alabama submitted its proposal, a federal court struck down Kentucky’s plan to impose a work requirement and other restrictions on people covered by Medicaid expansion. That ruling, against a state with a much more generous Medicaid program than Alabama’s, highlights our state’s risk of a similar costly lawsuit.

“Any way you look at it, this proposal is nothing more than an expensive plan for denying health coverage to parents in deep poverty. Instead of punishing struggling families, our leaders need a vision for a healthier Alabama. We urge Gov. Ivey to save tax dollars, cut red tape and save lives by withdrawing this misguided plan.”

U.S. Senate vote to protect SNAP is great news for Alabama

Arise Citizens’ Policy Project executive director Kimble Forrister issued the following statement Thursday, June 28, 2018, in response to the U.S. Senate’s 86-11 vote for a Farm Bill that protects and strengthens the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP):

“SNAP helps nearly 900,000 Alabamians make ends meet, and we’re pleased that the Senate voted overwhelmingly today for a Farm Bill that protects this essential tool to reduce hunger and poverty. We especially want to thank Senators Doug Jones and Richard Shelby for supporting the bill and opposing an amendment that would have made harmful changes to SNAP.

“Strengthening SNAP – not cutting it as the House Farm Bill proposes – is the right path forward. We urge Senators Jones and Shelby to work to ensure that the final conference agreement retains the Senate’s bipartisan protections of SNAP. And we urge the members of Alabama’s House delegation to join them in safeguarding food assistance for struggling families who need help.”

House Farm Bill would take food assistance from thousands of Alabamians, hurt rural communities

Arise Citizens’ Policy Project executive director Kimble Forrister issued the following statement Thursday, June 21, 2018, in response to the U.S. House’s passage of a Farm Bill that would cut food assistance for millions of Americans:

The U.S. House just voted to make life harder for tens of thousands of Alabamians. The House Farm Bill would increase hunger and hardship across Alabama and across the country by undercutting the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). This program helps nearly 900,000 Alabamians afford groceries and lifts 195,000 of them out of poverty.

“SNAP plays an essential role in supporting Alabama’s economy, improving public health and boosting rural communities. But the House bill would shift funding away from food assistance to a new, unworkable and underfunded employment and training system that would do little to help people actually find jobs. This move would take away or cut food assistance for millions of struggling Americans, including children, seniors, veterans, people with disabilities, low-wage workers, and people who lost their jobs.

“The Senate is pursuing a better approach, with a bipartisan Farm Bill that protects SNAP and makes meaningful investments in job training. We urge Senators Doug Jones and Richard Shelby to support the Senate bill and reject any harmful amendments that would cut SNAP for struggling Americans. We need a Farm Bill that supports our communities, strengthens food assistance and invests in comprehensive job training and education programs to give low-wage workers the opportunity to climb the economic ladder.”

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