Alabamians overwhelmingly support the use of American Rescue Plan Act relief funds for investment in rural hospitals and mental health care, according to a recent poll from Alabama Arise.
Eighty-one percent of respondents support the use of a portion of Alabama’s federal COVID-19 aid for investment in rural hospitals and increased access to health care for Alabamians living in rural areas.
Three in four likely voters, according to the poll, said lawmakers should “boost mental health funding to increase access to services across Alabama.”
Eighty percent of Republican respondents said they supported investments in rural hospitals, with nearly 68 percent supporting increased mental health care funding.
“Alabamians are loud and clear that they want our lawmakers to use federal relief money to strengthen our state’s health care system,” said Alabama Arise executive director Robyn Hyden in a statement Monday. “The COVID-19 pandemic has strained health care workers like nothing before in our lifetimes. And it has exposed and worsened our state’s persistent racial and geographic health disparities.”
The Alabama Legislature is convened in a special session to distribute some $772 million in ARPA funds for broadband expansion, sewage and water treatment projects, and health care. According to legislation recently passed by a joint House and Senate committee last Wednesday, $30 million is directed towards rural hospitals, with an additional $36.8 million for assisted living, public health, and mental health also approved.
“ARPA offers an unprecedented chance to protect rural hospitals and increase access to mental health care and other services,” Hyden said. “We must seize this opportunity to build a healthier future for Alabama.”
Among other areas of potential funding favored by respondents, expanded access to subsidized child care for working families and increased funding for COVID-19 testing and PPE for health are workers both polled over 65 percent among likely voters.
“The pandemic has made it harder for people across our state to find child care, keep a roof overhead and get where they need to go,” Hyden said. “We should use ARPA funding to ease families’ suffering and provide the supports needed to help every Alabamian succeed. It’s time for our lawmakers to meet this moment and ensure Alabama’s post-pandemic future is a bright and inclusive one.”