Alabama is one of just 12 states that has not expanded its Medicaid program following the 2010 passage of the Affordable Care Act.
Newly-elected State House Rep. Curtis Travis intends to change that.Newly-elected State Rep. Curtis Travis intends to change that. He now represents District 72, which includes parts of Bibb, Hale, Green and Tuscaloosa counties.
Born and raised in Sawyerville, a small, rural community near Tuscaloosa, Travis launched his bid for the District 72 seat in 2022 after members of his community encouraged him to run for office. As a father, and pastor, Travis was well-known within his community and beyond.
Travis went on to narrowly win a contested Democratic primary election in May of 2022, defeating incumbent Ralph Howard with 52.7% of the vote. Travis won the general election that November handily, securing 82% of the vote.
When asked what his biggest priority might be as a freshman legislator, Travis told Alabama Daily News it would be to expand Medicaid, particularly to help improve health care in rural districts like his own.
He also said supporting public schools over private schools and public charter schools, funding volunteer fire departments in rural areas, and improving both transportation and broadband infrastructure in rural counties also topped his priority list.
Travis has been assigned to four committees: Agriculture and Forestry; Transportation, Utilities and Infrastructure; Ports, Waterways and Intermodal Transit; and Ethics and Campaign Finance Committees.
Travis is a graduate of Akron High School, and received a bachelors of science degree in petroleum engineering from University of Alabama, and later a masters degree in environmental engineering.
Q&A with Rep. Curtis Travis *questions are paraphrased
Q: What was your main motivation in running for office?
“What got me is I had some of the constituents in the House district called me and asked me to run.”
Q: What would you consider to be your biggest legislative priority?
“My biggest priority if I had my wishes would be some type of Medicaid expansion to help improve rural health care and help keep rural hospitals open.
Q: Given the precedent of lawmakers in Alabama being hesitant to expand Medicaid, how do you hope to achieve such an expansion?
“I think the record should speak for itself. Look at (the) $1.8 billion over 12 years that would have come through, and the fact is that the most that Alabama would have had to pay in that match would have been 10% at the highest level.
Our support of the Affordable Care Act, it’s a testament that it’s still going to be around. It does provide insurance for the number of people that is needed. (We want) to be able to catch those folks in that loop without any insurance, (so) I think it’s worth looking at.
We also need to look at the impact that it’s having on our health-care delivery system, from our doctors (to) hospitals, (and) how we’re able to recruit and retain medical personnel in our communities.
I think one of the biggest things for economic development for rural areas is having some type of health care system that’s available. You talk about bringing plants here, (but) they want to know that we at least have a health-care facility within an appropriate distance to respond. So I think that makes a big difference.”
Q: The idea of allowing funds earmarked for public schools to follow students to public charter schools, private schools and homeschool environments has grown steam over the past few years, with many legislators advocating for expanding ‘school choice.’ Where do you land on this topic?
“Outside the public school system, you don’t have me as a supporter because people (already) have a choice on how they want to attend school.
I have to always caution myself because where I came from, when we start talking about private schools, it was for segregation purposes in Alabama. From the area of Hale County (and) Greene County, back in the day there were a set of schools put in place all in an effort to resist integration of the school system. Those people chose to go there, they didn’t want to participate in public school.
When you start talking about doing this, you’re only hurting these school systems further. Public charter schools, I don’t have a problem with (them), but when you start moving stuff outside of the environment of the public school system, I can’t be an advocate for that.”
Q: Are there any issues in your particular district you would like to address as a legislator?
“Things that I would like to see (would be to) continue more support of our volunteer fire departments; that’s one of those areas which is truly volunteer and unpaid. In those cases, they’re the ones at a tornado, they are the first ones out in the field trying to help get roads cleared and helping people out.
They’re the first responders with health care a lot of times in local communities, (and) they need more support (from) an operational standpoint.”