In many small towns across Alabama, the Great Recession of 2008 is still visible in empty storefronts, shrunken paychecks and lives put on hold.
Unfortunately, those rural communities will soon be dealt another devastating blow if Congress cuts federal funding for our state’s Medicaid program. Medicaid is a critical lifeline for 24 percent of Alabama’s rural and small-town residents, and the deep cuts to Medicaid being considered right now by Congress would have a harmful and disproportionate impact on our children, seniors and families in need.
According to a new independent report by researchers at Georgetown University and the University of North Carolina, a larger share of children and families living in small towns and rural areas rely on Medicaid for their health coverage. This is especially true for children. About 52 percent of children living in non-metro areas of Alabama are covered by Medicaid and ALLKids (known in other states as the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP), compared to 42 percent in metro areas. Nationally, the researchers found a direct connection between increases in Medicaid and CHIP coverage and reductions in the rate of uninsured children in small towns and rural areas.