Alabama has another chance to improve health and economic opportunities for hundreds of thousands of the working class.  President Biden plans to strengthen the Affordable Care Act and provide access for more people, especially those in the 14 states that refused Medicaid expansion.  The new federal increase in matching dollars could cover the whole cost for Alabama’s expansion of Medicaid eligibility. 

In addition to funding, states can lengthen coverage for new mothers to one year.   In states that expanded Medicaid, most of these women maintain coverage under Medicaid because their income still qualifies.  States such as Alabama kick them off at 60 days.

That means a lot of women of color do not have coverage.  According to the CDC, black mothers are three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than white women.  There is more to that problem than just access to coverage under Medicaid, but it would be a key component in addressing the issue, particularly now.

During COVID-19, Black, Hispanic, Indigenous and Asian Americans face higher rates of exposure to the virus and suffer more severe health consequences upon infection.  Alabama ranks in the bottom five of states in terms of health care access and quality, public health – and COVID vaccine administration. 

All of this means that a large segment of the state’s population is not as productive as they could be. That costs all of us and constrains economic growth and quality of life.  Urge the legislature to expand Medicaid.

Dan Waterman