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Alabama outpaces other Southern states in health coverage enrollment gains
The number of people enrolling in Marketplace health coverage is growing more quickly in Alabama than in most other Southern states, according to the Alabama Enrollment Coalition's analysis of new enrollment data. The coalition consists of ACPP, Enroll Alabama and other organizations working to help Alabamians obtain health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.
Alabama has increased its health insurance enrollments under the ACA from nearly 98,000 in 2014 to nearly 138,000 through Jan. 23, 2015, with several weeks of open enrollment left. The boost of more than 40,000 enrollees marks an increase of 40.9 percent over the first year of open enrollment. The average increase among states using the federal Marketplace is 33 percent.
"Alabama's enrollment surge shows that affordable health coverage is available, and Alabamians are seizing the opportunity," ACPP policy director Jim Carnes said. "As the Feb. 15 enrollment deadline approaches, we urge anyone who needs insurance to learn about the financial assistance available and sign up for a plan that works for them."
New ACA enrollment figures are great news for Alabamians
ACPP policy director Jim Carnes issued the following statement Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2015, in response to new U.S. Department of Health and Human Services data showing that more than 126,000 Alabamians have selected or been re-enrolled in health coverage plans through the Health Insurance Marketplace created under the Affordable Care Act (ACA):
"The latest ACA enrollment numbers are great news for Alabama on two counts. First, they show that most Alabamians who enrolled in Marketplace coverage last year are paying their premiums and keeping their health insurance. And second, they show that more than 30,000 additional Alabamians already have gotten covered this year, with another month left to enroll.
"Affordable coverage is available, and Alabamians are seizing the opportunity. We're eager to see even more progress as open enrollment for 2015 coverage continues through Feb. 15."
Study on Alabama’s tax system: The less you make, the bigger share you pay
Low- and middle-income Alabamians pay more than twice as much in taxes as a share of their income compared to the state's wealthiest residents, according to a study released Wednesday by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), a nonprofit research organization based in Washington, D.C. The study, Who Pays?, analyzes tax systems in all 50 states.
Every state's tax system is regressive, meaning the lower one's income, the higher one's tax rate. Alabama's tax system is the nation's 12th most regressive, ITEP finds. The Alabamians who earn the least – less than $17,000 a year – pay 10 percent of their income in state and local taxes. By contrast, the top 1 percent of Alabama earners – those who make $392,000 or more – pay an average of just 3.8 percent of their income in state and local taxes.
"Alabama's upside-down taxes hold our state back and drive low-income families deeper into poverty," ACPP policy director Jim Carnes said. "Our leaders could help right the ship by repealing the state grocery tax and ending tax breaks that favor wealthy people who could easily afford to pay more. It would help modernize our state's tax system, and it would help Alabama raise enough money for crucial services like education and health care."
Medicaid RCOs will lead to a healthier Alabama
ACPP policy director Jim Carnes issued the following statement Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014, in response to Gov. Robert Bentley's announcement of the Alabama Medicaid Agency's new regional care organization (RCO) plan:
"Today marks the beginning of a new era for health care in Alabama. By emphasizing preventive and primary care and giving communities a stronger role in health care decision-making, Medicaid’s RCO model is creating a new roadmap to a healthier Alabama and a more stable state budget.
"The governor's announcement highlights how vital Alabama Medicaid is to the health care system on which we all depend. We thank Gov. Robert Bentley, State Health Officer Dr. Don Williamson and Acting Medicaid Commissioner Stephanie Azar for their leadership in the state's Medicaid transformation. And we congratulate the six RCOs for successfully completing the first phase of this historic effort."
Alabama's strong participation in anti-hunger program is great news for 180K+ children
ACPP executive director Kimble Forrister issued the following statement Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014, in response to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's release of data showing that more than 180,000 Alabama children – nearly one in four of the state's public school students – attend schools that are using the community eligibility option under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 to serve free school meals to all of their students in 2014-15:
"No child should go hungry. No matter where they grow up or how little their families make, all children deserve the chance to succeed in the classroom and in life. Community eligibility is a huge step toward making that goal a reality.
"Nearly 350 Alabama schools are seizing this opportunity to help students learn and thrive. Our state's schools are participating at nearly twice the national rate, and we encourage even more schools to take part next year."
The State of Working Alabama 2014: Health coverage in Alabama: Where we've succeeded and where there's work left to do
Alabama has enjoyed great success in recent decades in ensuring that children and seniors have the health protection they need, according to a new Arise Citizens’ Policy Project report issued Tuesday as part of The State of Working Alabama 2014. But the state lags behind the nation when it comes to insuring young adults, nearly 30 percent of whom lack health coverage.
"Child care, construction and food service are essential jobs that are often low-paying, and the people who do that important work deserve the protection of health insurance," ACPP policy director Jim Carnes said. "The Marketplace makes affordable coverage available for tens of thousands of Alabamians. Closing the coverage gap would insure hundreds of thousands more. It's time for our state to take this important step toward a healthier, more secure Alabama for all."