FILE - Healthy

(The Center Square) – One Alabama nonprofit is pointing to new census data and how policy choices have made the state healthier.

Alabama Arise credits lawmakers' building the child tax credit, expanding Medicaid, and untaxing groceries as three ways residents’ health has improved. In particular, the policy group points to a reduction in child poverty as a vast improvement in the state.

“The success of the Child Tax Credit expansion was undeniable,” Alabama Arise executive director Robyn Hyden said in a release. “This policy slashed child poverty and helped families make ends meet across our state and our country. Congress needs to renew the Child Tax Credit expansion and make it permanent. And our state lawmakers should do their part to help Alabama families keep food on the table by ending the state grocery tax and replacing the revenue in a responsible way.”

By expanding the child tax credit, the organization said, 5.3 million Americans were kept above the poverty line, and the one-year expansion through the American Rescue Plan Act allowed the credit to be available to families with low or no earnings.

Last year, according to the release, Alabama’s child poverty rate stood at 22%, while prepandemic levels were 21.1% in 2019.

While the uninsured rate dropped to 8.6% last year in the country, Alabama was 9.7% in 2019 and 9.9% in 2021. The state, according to the organization, has experienced pattern or been outperforming the national average for years, and the 4% uninsured rate kept the state tops in the South.

Medicaid improvement also factored into the health improvements in Alabama residents as the federal government, according to the release, mandates participants remain covered through the pandemic. The federal government also improved subsidies under the American Rescue Plan Act, which benefited 219,000 state residents who had plans through the Affordable Care Act.

“Medicaid, ALL Kids and ACA marketplace coverage have saved and improved the lives of millions of Alabamians,” Hyden said. “Alabama should build on these successes by expanding Medicaid to help more than 340,000 people who are uninsured or struggling to afford health insurance.

“It’s time for Gov. Kay Ivey to say yes to the generous federal incentives for Medicaid expansion. It’s time for her to say yes to a healthier future for Alabama.”

Associate Editor

Brent Addleman is an Associate Editor and a veteran journalist with more than 25 years of experience. He has served as editor of newspapers in Pennsylvania and Texas, and has also worked at newspapers in Delaware, Maryland, New York, and Kentucky.