I am driving to Uriah, Alabama tomorrow afternoon to discuss Obamacare as President of the Alabama Rural Health Association. I was somewhat taken aback  when asked to do so. This was in part because when I heard the health care reform bill referred to as Obamacare my first thought was that I was being drug into a partisan discussion, and I am trying desperately to remain non-partisan. The organization that invited me was a group named ACT-II. I was pleasantly surprised when they came to meet with me a couple of weeks ago.

Turns out while most of us just sit there, this group has been out doing stuff. They describe themselves as:

ACT -II –  All Churches Together  –  is a faith based, Christ-centered organization which operates on principles of truth, respect and fairness to all races and classes. ACT-II was developed by Baldwin County pastors in conjunction with Ecumenical Ministries, Inc. Together we work on a wide variety of problems in both poor and affluent communities around the county. Our mission is to develop leaders and empower people to take democratic action to improve the quality of life in our communities using our dialogue to action church-based model and principles.”

Among other things, they have gotten a law passed to stop insurance agencies from charging exorbitant rates for homeowner’s insurance just because they live in Mobile or Baldwin Counties (with many of the poorer citizens living over 40 miles from the beach). Now they want to take on health care for the citizens of rural Alabama. When they met me they unapologetically referred to themselves as community organizers and were genuinely interested in informing their member congregations about what Obamacare (said in a nice way) means to the pastors (who likely are insured) and the congregants (the adults are likely not insured at this time). I am please to be able to be of some help to this group.

This contrasts with the Alabama Governor’s race.  One candidate seems to be considering standing in the Medicaid Agency door to bar participation (further reducing access for Alabamians). The other is planning to enlist the aid of a threatened suspension of Medicaid to enable gambling to sweep into Alabama and provide revenue through a lottery and slot machine like bingo (at the expense, I presume, of the poor). I hope the candidates pay attention to the  community organizers wants-needs-desires and alter their platforms accordingly.

While preparing to meet with these folks I came across the following numbers:

$5149  – Average deductible for a family medical policy in the US

$49,207 – Median family income Alabama (44th from the top)

14.4% – number of Alabamians living in poverty (11th from the worst)

11.3% – Number of Alabamians with Diabetes (ranked 3rd in the country)

8 – Number of counties in Alabama without a hospital (out of 67)

9/1000 – Number of newborns who die within the first month (4th from the worst)

35 – the number of Alabama counties without full pregnancy care for a routine pregnancy (out of 67)