Documentary Film Highlights Early Days of COVID-19 Pandemic and Ongoing Impact on Black, Rural Communities in Alabama

Highlighting the Importance of Medicaid in Light of the Federal COVID-19 Relief Package’s Financial Incentives for States Such as Alabama to Expand Eligibility

March 17, 2021

Pictures / Full Video (3:55) / Trailer (0:45)

MONTGOMERY, AL – March 16, 2021 – A film by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) features the stories of those disproportionally affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and stresses the importance of health insurance coverage for lower income individuals in Alabama.

The film’s urgent message continues to be at the forefront of conversations on public policy change that could significantly address the longstanding health and cancer disparities, exacerbated by the pandemic and provide lower income Alabamians access to comprehensive, affordable health insurance coverage.

The recently passed federal COVID-19 relief package increases the federal matching funds available to states that expand Medicaid – providing a significant financial incentive for the remaining 12 states, including Alabama, to broaden eligibility for its Medicaid programs.  The state could receive as much as $740 million in federal funds if state policy makers expand Medicaid.

Over the past year, ACS CAN has met with community leaders and health care providers in the Black Belt of Alabama as well as other rural parts of the state to see how the pandemic has and continues to impact communities of color and their ability to access and afford healthcare. The short film showcases the ongoing, stark racial and geographic divide in communities who have been disproportionally been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, largely due to long-standing barriers to health insurance coverage.

On the Edge: COVID-19 in the Black Belt features these conversations and scenarios that highlight the important role Medicaid can play in reducing health disparities and responding to the pandemic-driven economic downturn, specifically in communities of color that have been hit hardest by today’s global public health crisis.

WHY: Communities of color are more 1.5 times more likely to be uninsured than their white counterparts, resulting in limited access to care. In fact, Black Americans have the highest death rate and the lowest survival rate of any racial or ethnic group for most cancers due in part to these disparities in coverage. A recent report by ACS CAN also found that the financial burden of cancer care falls hardest on people of color.

Racial disparities in cancer care are largely attributed to obstacles to accessing health care services. Obstacles include, but are not limited to, lack of or inadequate health insurance coverage, low socioeconomic status, lacking a usual source of care, transportation difficulties and health literacy challenges.

Successfully fighting cancer depends on access to timely, high-quality, affordable health care coverage and treatment. Without coverage and treatment, people are less likely to get screened for cancer and are more likely to be diagnosed with cancer at an advanced stage when survival is less likely, and the cost of care is higher.

WHO: Film stars that can speak to COVID-19’s impact and the importance of Medicaid include:

  • Dr. Carter, sole provider in the rural town of Autaguaville and one of the town’s largest employers
  • Phillis Belcher, Economic Development for Greene County Industrial Development Authority

**Interviews with any of the above spokespeople can be scheduled by reaching Taylor Hall at [email protected] or 305.742.6458**


The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) is making cancer a top priority for public officials and candidates at the federal, state and local levels. ACS CAN empowers advocates across the country to make their voices heard and influence evidence-based public policy change as well as legislative and regulatory solutions that will reduce the cancer burden. As the American Cancer Society’s nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, ACS CAN is critical to the fight for a world without cancer. For more information, visit

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