Medicaid expansion is a proven solution to help people join and stay in the workforce, a new report from Community Catalyst spotlights. States that have expanded Medicaid have seen a greater increase in labor force participation among people with incomes below 138% of the poverty line than states – like Alabama – that have not expanded.
“Every Alabamian should be able to get the medical care they need to survive and thrive,” said Debbie Smith, Alabama Arise’s Cover Alabama campaign director. “Removing financial barriers to health care would make our workforce more robust and more productive. It’s time for Alabama policymakers to close the health coverage gap and invest in a healthier future for our state and for our people.”
Nearly half of Alabama workers do not get employer-sponsored health insurance, the Catalyst report finds. This forces tens of thousands of Alabama families to make tough decisions, either to forgo needed health care or take on thousands of dollars of medical debt. When Alabamians are delaying the care and treatment they need, that hurts their productivity and their well-being.
The need for expansion is especially urgent right now as state officials unwind COVID-19 pandemic-era Medicaid policies, leaving about 61,000 Alabamians at risk of losing their Medicaid. Without Medicaid expansion in the state, many more individuals and families will be left with no options for affordable health coverage.
Closing Alabama’s coverage gap could create an average of 20,083 new jobs per year and have an estimated positive economic impact of $11.36 billion over the next six years. Medicaid expansion would be one key solution to improving workforce participation across the state.