A nonpartisan alliance of more than 60 Alabama organizations has come together to urge Gov. Kay Ivey to say yes to Medicaid expansion. The Cover Alabama Coalition, which launched Wednesday, is calling on Ivey to close the health coverage gap for workers who don’t have employer-based insurance and can’t afford to purchase insurance on their own. Alabama Arise is a founding member of the coalition.
Cover Alabama is a coalition of advocacy groups, businesses, community organizations, consumer groups, health care providers and religious congregations from across the state. (You can read the full membership list here.) The coalition held a virtual news conference Wednesday to highlight the critical role that Medicaid expansion can play in ensuring access to health care, protecting families against bankruptcy and stabilizing rural hospitals – both during the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic recovery.
“This pandemic only heightens the need for bold, comprehensive action,” said Evey Owen, interim coalition director for Cover Alabama. “The health and economic costs of COVID-19 will be high no matter what. Alabama must maximize the value of every state dollar we spend to protect public health. And the best way to do that is to leverage the 90% federal match for Medicaid expansion.”
The need to expand Medicaid here and now
So far, 36 states – including Arkansas, Kentucky and Louisiana – have expanded Medicaid to cover adults with low incomes. Alabama is one of just 14 states that have not done so. Medicaid expansion would benefit hundreds of thousands of Alabamians who are uninsured or struggling to pay for health coverage. Many of these uninsured people are “front-line workers” at grocery stores, hospitals, pharmacies and other essential businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s great to applaud the brave Alabamians who are keeping food on our tables and keeping hospitals clean during the crisis, but it would be even better to make sure they can get health coverage,” Owen said. “These are the workers most likely to be uninsured, and we should do everything we can to keep them safe and healthy.”
Speakers at Cover Alabama’s news conference Wednesday pointed out that Medicaid expansion would:
- Help uninsured Alabamians avoid risks of delayed care, like unchecked COVID-19 transmission, poor health outcomes and overwhelming medical debt.
- Relieve rural health care providers from financial strain, preventing further hospital closures.
- Bring billions of federal dollars into local and state economies as they struggle to recover from revenue losses of historic proportions.
To elevate and amplify the public conversation about Medicaid expansion at this critical time, Cover Alabama plans to share stories of Alabamians caught in the coverage gap, news about expansion’s impact in other states and an opportunity for more groups to join the campaign.