Governor should focus on health coverage in workforce initiative

To help Alabama reach its fullest workforce participation potential – like Gov. Kay Ivey says she wants – we must give workers a fighting chance to stay healthy enough to work.

August 9, 2023

MONTGOMERY, AL -- AUGUST 9, 2023 -- To help Alabama reach its fullest workforce participation potential – like Gov. Kay Ivey says she wants – we must give workers a fighting chance to stay healthy enough to work. That’s why I am calling on the Governor to close the coverage gap by expanding Medicaid to help more than 220,000 Alabamians get life-saving care.

When I was diagnosed with cancer 20 years ago, I had health coverage that allowed me to get treatment and beat the disease. Since then, I’ve continued to take advantage of preventive screenings to stay healthy and encourage my family and employees to do the same. All employees at my company have comprehensive health benefits, but I can’t say the same for the rest of the transportation logistics industry.

Many of my peers rely on temporary or contracted workers to drive trucks, repair tires and perform vehicle maintenance. These workers do not get employer-provided healthcare. If you think this is rare in Alabama, think again; this is the norm across many of our state’s biggest industries. It’s unlikely the cook at your favorite restaurant or the cashier at your local store gets health coverage through work. Same goes for hard-working janitors, painters, childcare workers and travel agents. In fact, recent studies show nearly half of Alabama workers do not get employer-sponsored health insurance. Many of these employees fall into the coverage gap, making too little to afford insurance and too much to qualify for Medicaid. In Alabama, the parents in a family of three earning $5,000 a year would make too much to be eligible for Medicaid.

These are hard-working Alabamians who want to provide for their families. I know my fellow employers in the trucking industry are supportive of closing the gap because they’re tired of high turnover rates. My peers are losing good people. Gov. Ivey must close the coverage gap in Alabama to create an environment where workers stay healthy enough to participate and stay in the workforce.

If Alabama closes the coverage gap, studies show the economy would significantly benefit. Other states like Kentucky and Louisiana have added thousands of jobs and billions of dollars to their budgets.

Hard-working Alabamians paying federal taxes are sending their dollars to other states. It’s time to bring that money back home to benefit Alabama workers and our state’s economy.

Gov. Ivey talked about barriers of getting people back into the workforce. I want her to know we have to create an environment where people can have affordable healthcare options leading to better lives in the workforce. We need to close the coverage gap immediately in Alabama.


This originally ran as a guest opinion piece in the Alabama Daily News on August 9, 2023.

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