ACPP news releases

Medicaid cuts would devastate Alabama's health care system

Arise Citizens Policy Project executive director Kimble Forrister issued the following statement Tuesday, March 15, 2016, after the Alabama House passed a General Fund budget that would force deep Medicaid cuts:

“These Medicaid cuts would be devastating for Alabamians, our economy and our entire health care system. They could force many rural hospitals to close and prompt many pediatricians to leave the state. They would end coverage of essential services like outpatient dialysis and adult eyeglasses. And they would end promising new Medicaid reforms that would save money and keep people healthier.

“We simply can’t afford these Medicaid cuts. It’s wrong to put health care at risk for children, seniors, and people with disabilities in Alabama. It’s time to get serious about raising the revenue needed to invest in a healthier Alabama for all.”

Medicaid is the foundation of Alabama’s health care system, and lawmakers should protect it

Arise Citizens Policy Project executive director Kimble Forrister issued the following statement Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016, after the Alabama Senate passed a General Fund budget that could force deep cuts to Medicaid:

“Medicaid is the foundation of Alabama’s entire health care system, and it’s essential to protect it. Our state has gotten federal approval for promising new Medicaid reforms to save money and keep Alabamians healthier. Now we need to invest in these reforms to make them work.

“Medicaid insures many of the most vulnerable Alabamians: children, seniors, and people with disabilities. As the budget debate goes forward, we hope lawmakers will be careful not to send patients a message that their basic health care could be at risk. Considering how important Medicaid is to the health of our neighbors and our economy, we need to approach this debate with the urgency and gravity it deserves.”

We must acknowledge Medicaid's vital role in Alabama

Arise Citizens Policy Project executive director Kimble Forrister issued the following statement Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016, after an Alabama Senate committee approved a 2017 General Fund budget:

“We’re disturbed to see Medicaid on the chopping block again, but it was encouraging today to hear senators acknowledge Medicaid’s fundamental role in Alabama’s health care system. There is no way to cut Medicaid without devastating consequences, and ultimately it needs new revenue. As the General Fund debate goes on, we hope lawmakers will take to heart the crucial role that Medicaid plays in the health of Alabamians and our economy.”

Alabama's K-12 cuts since recession among nation's worst, report finds

Alabama ranks second worst in the country in state K-12 education funding cuts, with state formula support down 17.3 percent since the start of the Great Recession, according to a report released Thursday, Dec. 10, 2015, by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), a nonpartisan policy research organization based in Washington, D.C.

Only Oklahoma has seen deeper per-student state funding cuts since 2008 than Alabama has. Overall, Alabama cut its total state and local investment in K-12 schools by 11.3 percent per student between 2008 and 2014, the seventh worst cut in the nation.

This erosion in education support could make it harder for workers to compete for highly skilled jobs in the global economy, said Kimble Forrister, executive director of Arise Citizens’ Policy Project (ACPP). Cutting education also could make it more difficult for communities to attract well-paying jobs and could deprive local businesses of a strong customer base, Forrister said.

“If we want a strong future for our state, we need to invest in it now,” Forrister said. “Alabama must invest in our schools so our children and grandchildren can receive the education they need to succeed in life and help their families get ahead.”

Even as the recovery boosted revenues this year, Alabama restored only a small fraction of the K-12 funding cut during the downturn. Parents and educators want to strengthen schools by reducing class size, improving teacher quality and expanding early education. But improvements cost money, and funding cuts undermine those efforts. For one example, Alabama still needs to hire additional middle school teachers to ensure students in that age range stay on track to graduate high school.

“As the nation is trying to produce workers with the skills to master new technologies and adapt to the complexities of a global economy, states should be investing more – not less – so our kids get a strong education,” said CBPP state fiscal research director Michael Leachman, a report co-author.

Reducing investment in schools weakens the economy in the long term. Quality education is a crucial foundation to help children succeed in college and the workplace. The money they earn later helps Alabama through stronger tax revenues and consumer spending. Budgets that force school layoffs or cut pay for teachers and staff can reduce purchasing power and slow economic recovery.

Read CBPP's one-page fact sheet on Alabama's K-12 cuts here.

Alabama leads Deep South on children's health coverage, report finds

Alabama is leading its neighbors on an important aspect of childhood health: the uninsured rate for children. Alabama’s uninsured rate of 3.8 percent is the lowest in the Deep South, according to a report released Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2015, by Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families (CCF).

“Alabama is doing right by its kids,” said Kimble Forrister, executive director of Arise Citizens’ Policy Project. “When children have health coverage, they can get the care they need to show up for school ready to learn. Their families can take them to the doctor when they’re sick so they don’t wind up even sicker and in need of more expensive care in a hospital.”

Forrister attributed the state’s performance to a team approach by Medicaid, ALL Kids, pediatricians and advocates. Evidence shows children who received Medicaid coverage are less likely to drop out of high school and more likely to graduate from college, Georgetown researchers say. The kids also have better health and economic success as adults, making them less reliant on safety net programs.

“When parents don’t have to worry about medical bills, the whole family can stay healthier and more financially secure,” Forrister said. “That’s good for the economy and good for our children’s future.”

Unfortunately, many Alabama children live in homes with uninsured parents because the state has not yet accepted additional federal funding available to cover more uninsured adults. If Alabama extended Medicaid coverage to more uninsured parents, more children would get the health care coverage they need to succeed. States that accepted federal funding to expand Medicaid coverage to uninsured parents saw nearly double the rate of improvement in the number of uninsured kids than other states, as parents enrolled their children when they signed up for newly available coverage.

“Extending Medicaid coverage to more working parents would help children by reducing the number of uninsured kids, boosting families’ financial security and enabling children to get better care from healthier parents,” said Joan Alker, executive director of the Georgetown University CCF. “Children thrive when their parents are healthy and economically secure, so improvements in health coverage for parents benefit the whole family.”

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