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More Alabamians had health coverage in 2012 despite higher poverty
The share of Alabamians without health insurance decreased in 2012, even as the state continued to suffer from one of the nation's highest poverty rates, U.S. Census Bureau data released Thursday show. The data suggest Medicaid and other public insurance coverage played a significant role in holding Alabama's uninsured rate steady, ACPP executive director Kimble Forrister said, as did provisions of the Affordable Care Act that extend coverage to young adults.
"The Affordable Care Act has provided vital access to quality medical care for Alabama's young adults who are just starting out in life," Forrister said. "The Census data underscore just how much Alabama could strengthen our health care protections by fully implementing the act, including the Medicaid expansion that would start next year."
Arise statement on announcement of new payday loan regulations in Alabama
Arise's Kimble Forrister issued the following statement Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013, regarding the governor's announcement of new regulations to create a centralized payday loan database in Alabama:
Alabama Arise praises Gov. Robert Bentley for new regulations to protect borrowers from excessive payday loan debt. Many supporters had written Banking Department Superintendent John Harrison, asking that he approve a set of new regulations on payday lending. Payday lenders pushed for rejection of the changes, but the regulations were approved as proposed. Coalition members of the Alliance for Responsible Lending in Alabama (ARLA) partnered with the Federation of Republican Women and ALCAP in supporting the regulations.
Arise is especially pleased with the plan for a new central database that is slated to be in place by January 2014. Current law limits payday loans to $500 per borrower at any given time, but allows lenders to check several databases, none of them comprehensive. The result is that some borrowers can go from store to store and amass a mountain of debt. The new central database will protect borrowers from excessive debt and help lenders comply with the law. It’s a great first step. Arise and ARLA will continue to press the Legislature to cap the interest rate on payday loans, currently 456 percent APR, and on auto title loans, now at 300 percent.
Alabama's state K-12 funding cuts since 2008 are nation's second deepest
Alabama's cuts to state K-12 education funding since the start of the Great Recession have been the nation's second worst, according to a new study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The cuts have slowed Alabama's economic recovery and could hurt the state's future economic growth, ACPP executive director Kimble Forrister said.
"Education opens the doors of opportunity for hundreds of thousands of low-income Alabamians," Forrister said. "We can't strengthen our state's economy by eroding our foundation for economic growth."
Montgomery joins growing list of Alabama cities with moratoriums on new licenses for payday, title lenders
Alabama's capital and second-largest city Tuesday joined a growing group of cities clamping down on the proliferation of payday and title lending storefronts. The Montgomery City Council voted 5-3 for a 90-day moratorium on issuing new business licenses to such operations. The moratorium does not affect current operations.
Montgomery joins a list of other state cities that have passed or renewed temporary restrictions on licenses for new payday or title lenders since 2011, including Birmingham, Center Point, Decatur, Eufaula, Irondale and Trussville. This news update examines the Montgomery council decision and what may come next.
Commission to send watered-down constitutional revisions to Alabama Legislature
Due process rights and a judicially enforceable right to public education would not be included in the Alabama Constitution under the proposed new articles approved Thursday by the Alabama Constitutional Revision Commission. The commission did endorse adding equal protection language to the constitution, but explicitly declined to extend those safeguards to gay Alabamians. The state would have to maintain public schools, but lawsuits over that language would be forbidden.
The proposals would have to win lawmakers' approval and pass in a statewide vote next year before officially becoming part of the constitution. This legislative update recaps the commission's debate and decisions on these weighty issues.
A brighter day for women's health
Alabama's women have enjoyed a whole year of new health protections, thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Guaranteed insurance benefits that went into effect last August for new and renewing health plans include an array of preventive services at no cost.
This fact sheet outlines the ACA's health benefits for women, as well as new protections coming in 2014.