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Concentrated Poverty and Lack of Affordable Health Care Revealed in Census Survey

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—According to a Census Bureau report released Tuesday, more than one-in-five working-age Alabamians lacked health coverage in 2013.

The Census Bureau has also ranked Alabama as the seventh poorest state in the Nation.

The survey found that overall, more than one in eight Alabamians lacked health insurance last year. This recent estimate is based on a new survey and cannot be compared to previous years, according to the Census Bureau.

The new survey will provide a baseline for the Census Bureau to track changes in the number of people without health insurance because of the Affordable Care Act. The current data does not reflect individuals in states with expanded Medicaid, because parts of the Affordable Care Act were not fully implemented at the time of the survey.

However, in state’s like Alabama where the Governor and the Republican Supermajority have vowed not to expand Medicaid under Obamacare, the statistics do have merit, today and for the future.

Kimble Forrister of the Arise Citizens’ Policy Project (ACPP), commenting on the survey said, “Alabama can and should do more to make sure health insurance affordable, especially for people who are struggling.”

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According to Arise, the new survey does not reflect the enrollment of nearly 100,000 Alabamians in the new Health Insurance Marketplace, but next year’s Census data will.

However, again, the Governor and the Republican Supermajority chose not to build a state-run Health Insurance Marketplace, deferring to the Federally run program.

Forrister applauds the State’s efforts in “covering children and seniors,” but adds that, “Now it’s time to do the same for working Alabamians.” He also stresses the need to expand Medicaid, “which would help more than 340,000 Alabamians get health coverage.”

The 2013 Census Report also showed the more than one-third of Alabamians live in concentrated “poverty areas.” According to the Census Bureau, poverty areas are census tracts which have a 20 percent poverty or higher. The State ranks as the Nation’s seventh poorest, with 19 percent, or nearly 900,000 Alabamians living below the Federal poverty line. More than 60 percent of that number live in “poverty-dense census tracts.”

Alabama Possible Executive Director Kristina Scott, said of the Census survey, “Concentrated poverty is linked with reduced educational and employment opportunities, higher crime rates, poor health outcomes, and hindered asset building. In today’s interconnected society, that negatively impacts all of us.”

In 2010, so-called “Pro-Business Republicans” were swept into power by the people of the State. Some studies have shown that the people of the State would approve the expansion of Medicaid as long as it is not seen as being a part of Obamacare.

The Republican Supermajority came to power blaming the President for all the State’s ills and in the recent Republican primaries each candidate try to “Out Obama,” his opponent.

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That being the mind set of current State leadership a handful of statistics will not move the group of politicos to address the suffering of the State’s poorest citizens.

Bill Britt is editor-in-chief at the Alabama Political Reporter and host of The Voice of Alabama Politics. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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