U.S. Census findings released Tuesday show that about 32,000 more Alabamians were uninsured in 2018 than in 2017. They also found that the state’s uninsured rate remained higher than the national average. Alabama Arise policy director Jim Carnes issued the following statement in response:
“No one should have to go without the medical care they need simply because they can’t afford it. But that’s the reality for a growing number of Alabamians, because our state has refused to expand Medicaid. Gov. Kay Ivey and state lawmakers need to lift this policy barrier that separates hundreds of thousands of Alabamians from affordable health coverage.
“As Alabama’s inaction on Medicaid expansion continues, our state’s uninsured rate continues to climb. The share of Alabamians without health insurance coverage rose to 10% in 2018, up from 9.4% in 2017. This is a trend in the wrong direction, but we can reverse it with better policy choices.
“All Alabamians would benefit from Medicaid expansion. More than 340,000 adults across the state would gain health security. The new coverage would pump about $1.7 billion a year in direct federal spending into our economy. And over the next four years, economic activity related to expansion would generate $446 million in state tax revenues.
“Even more important than the economic gains would be the human gains. Medicaid expansion would give Alabama better tools to address mental illnesses, substance use disorders, infant mortality and other longstanding challenges. Closing our state’s coverage gap would mean healthier families, more vibrant communities and a more productive workforce.
“It’s time to make an investment in Alabama’s future. The governor should expand Medicaid to protect rural hospitals, create thousands of jobs and make Alabama healthier.”