Health Insurance Enrollment Extension, Alabama Near Last in Nat'l Health Rankings

Dec 17, 2015

If any Alabamians missed out on signing up for coverage associated with the Affordable Care Act, there is still time to do so. APR’s MacKenzie Bates explains.

HealthCare.gov says it will be extending Tuesday’s deadline to sign up for health insurance to tonight. The reason is high demand among health care consumers who wanted coverage starting January 1. The new cutoff point is tonight at midnight PST.

Officials say the surge in consumer demand caused some applicants to wait at the call center or while trying to log into HealthCare.gov.

Officials add that consumers should not worry, and that HealthCare.gov is providing additional time for people to come back, shop and sign up for the plan that best fits their needs

If applicants have questions about the deadline or want to talk through their options, representatives at the Marketplace Call Center are standing by and are ready to help 24 hours a day. Call 1-800-318-2596.

Alabama fell two notches in a yearly report on health in the United States.

The annual America’s Health Rankings put the Yellowhammer State at number 46 out of 50 when it comes to overall health.

Dr. Rhonda Randall is the senior advisor to the United Health Foundation. She says there are a number of places where Alabama falls short.

“Alabama continues to have a high infant mortality rate, they’re ranked 49th. Low immunizations among adolescents: while we’re doing very well at getting children immunized, we’re not doing as good of a job in Alabama at getting teenagers immunized. We also see a high prevalence of low birth weight babies.”

However, Alabama does have a low prevalence in excessive drinking, and there is a lower disparity in health status by education level. Randall hopes health organizations can use these reports to help guide any future initiatives they may have.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley was in the Birmingham area yesterday discussing components of the state's job creation efforts. He says jobs will be a continued priority for the next three years.

Bentley spoke at a Homewood Chamber of Commerce luncheon yesterday. He noted the state's revamped pre-kindergarten program, workforce training and infrastructure improvements as key elements in successful industrial recruitment.

The governor says he’ll support a gas tax increase to fund infrastructure upgrades throughout the state. The issue could come up during the next legislative session.

Aside from job creation, Bentley says improving utilities and services in rural Alabama will also be a priority for the next three years. The governor says he and others are especially focused on the availability of broadband internet service and health care throughout the state.

The current Elmore County school superintendent won’t be able to run in the upcoming party primary, according to a recent ruling.

Elmore County Circuit Judge Sibley Reynolds ruled incumbent Superintendent Andre Harrison cannot run in the Republican primary.

Probate Judge John Enslen petitioned for an emergency judgment as to whether Harrison's name should be allowed on the ballot. Enslen says Harrison was missing key paperwork from the Alabama Department of Education in his qualification for the primary.

Attorney Keith Howard, who represents superintendent contender Richard Dennis, says Harrison missed the deadline to file the paperwork to qualify.

Harrison's attorney Al Agricola responded that the statute which outlines the laws for timely requirements when filing for primary qualification is not mandatory.

Harrison says he won't challenge the judge's order. He’ll just run as an independent candidate.