Deeper and smarter investments in education, housing, infrastructure and other vital services can eliminate barriers to good health for low-income residents and communities of color, according to a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), a nonpartisan policy research organization based in Washington, D.C.
Alabama can take many important policy steps to remove barriers to better health. These include:
- Expand Medicaid to cover more than 340,000 adults with low incomes.
- Provide state funding for public transportation to help seniors, people with disabilities, and people who can’t afford a car get to work or the doctor’s office and meet other basic needs.
- End the state grocery tax to make it easier for families to make ends meet.
- Modernize the state’s upside-down tax system to ensure Alabama raises enough money to invest in vital services and doesn’t tax struggling people deeper into poverty.
“Good health and good quality of life go hand in hand,” Alabama Arise executive director Robyn Hyden said. “By investing in Medicaid and public transportation and making our tax system more progressive, Alabama can build a stronger, healthier, more prosperous future for everyone.”
Income and wealth inequality, on top of centuries of structural racism, have taken their toll on health for black Alabamians. Black residents of our state die three years earlier than white residents, on average. Black babies in Alabama are twice as likely as white babies to be born with low birth weight, and they are twice as likely to die before their first birthdays.
Social, economic and environmental factors account for half of an individual’s health, the CBPP report says. That finding underscores the importance of investments in the common good.
“If Alabama really wants to improve the health of its residents, policymakers must prioritize education, housing, the environment, infrastructure, health programs and other public investments in their budgets,” CBPP senior policy analyst Jennifer Sullivan said.