Kids’ health is insured well in state

Published 4:55 pm Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Alabama may be in the lower tier of the country in some categories but not when it comes to providing health insurance for children. In that one category we excel.

Brian Lyman with the Montgomery Advertiser provided an excellent study revealing that Alabama leads the south in taking care of its young people when it comes to giving them health coverage. A recent Georgetown University study showed that Alabama leads the south when it comes to healthcare for children. Remarkably we are ranked in the top 10 states in America.

The reason for this outstanding record is the state’s excellent Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). We refer to it in Alabama as the “All Kids” program.
Children can be enrolled in Alabama’s CHIP program even if their family income is up to $71,500 per year. The study said that Alabama did better than most states in the nation and all of the states in the south in making it easy for kids to be enrolled in the program. All Kids partners with the Alabama Medicaid agency and stresses outreach and cutting down on red tape barriers. More than 88,000 children in Alabama participate in All Kids.

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Only 4.3 percent of Alabama children are uninsured. According to the study, Virginia was the closest southern state to us at 5.4 percent. Georgia has 9.6 percent and Florida has 11 percent of uninsured children.

Another survey done by the State Retirement Systems revealed some other remarkable facts about the economic impact of state pensions in Alabama. In 2012, over 115,000 Alabamians received a total of $2.9 billion in pension benefits from state and local pension plans. The recipients range from retired teachers, state employees, public safety and city retirees throughout the state. The average pension benefit received was $2,114 per month or $25,367 per year.

The Retirement System boasted that retirees’ expenditures stemming from state and local pensions supported 36,000 jobs that paid $1.4 billion in wages and salaries. The total economic impact of the state is $4.8 billion. The industries that benefit the most from the state retirement dollars are food services, real estate, physicians, dentists, public and private hospitals, nursing and residential care facilities, and retail stores.

Yet another study done by the leading personal finance social network WalletHub ranked all of the 50 states on the most and least fair tax systems. The states varied widely because some have high property taxes, some states do not even have a state sales tax and some do not have an income tax. Some of WalletHub’s findings and statistics show that the poor are most overtaxed in Washington, Illinois and Florida. The wealthy are most undertaxed in Wyoming, Alaska and South Dakota.

According to their study, most Americans think a fair state and local tax system taxes higher income households at a higher rate than lower income households. WalletHub says the five states with the worst fair tax systems are Washington, Hawaii, Arkansas, Illinois and Florida. The states with the most fair tax systems are Montana, Oregon, Delaware, Idaho and Virginia. Alabama ranks about in the middle of the pack at 35th in fairness.

Speaking of taxes, Gov. Bentley has come forward with a package of revenue enhancement measures designed to shore up the beleaguered General Fund. The lynchpin proposal offered by the governor is to increase the cigarette tax from 42 cents per back to 82 cents per pack. It reveals to be seen how our reactionary legislature will dispose of his proposals.

According to WalletHub, we Alabamians or among the nation’s most generous givers. We are the 13th most charitable state when it comes to opening our personal purse strings. The ranking was based on a number of statistical categories, including percentage of donated income, volunteer rate, growth in giving, and median contribution to charity. Alabamians were third in the nation for percentage of donated income.