The Challenges Facing "Income Constrained" Households

Steve Adubato speaks with Michellene Davis, Executive VP & Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, RWJBarnabas Health, who explains what an ALICE household is (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) and the struggles these families face to manage even their most basic needs.

7/27/2019 #317






"We are pleased to be joined by Michellene Davis, who is the Executive Vice President and Chief Corporate Affairs Officer of RWJBarnabas Health. Good to see you. Good to see you. Let me disclose that you're a trustee of the Caucus Educational Corporation, and your organization is a significant supporter of public broadcasting. Indeed. So many times you've been with us in the past, we've talked about a whole range of issues, particularly affecting people who are economically challenged, people of color, a whole range of issues, socio-economic issues, tied to healthcare. ALICE stands for...? Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. What is it? And why should we all care deeply about this Michellene? Because ALICE's experience really does impact us all. So the reason why the United Way came up with ALICE as the moniker... most individuals refer to this population of vulnerable citizens as the working poor... is because we wanted to make certain that they had a clear picture of the fact that ALICE is everywhere. She pours your coffee in the morning. She serves your breakfast. She takes your toll as you're on your way here. ALICE is all around us. And it is time that we see her. What price do we pay if we don't pay enough attention to the needs of ALICE? How does it affect the rest of us who don't fall into that category because we're fortunate? I will utilize the example of healthcare. If, in fact, we are not giving a good opportunity to ensuring that ALICE is somewhere in one job, literally making a livable wage rather than in two or three roles, where, quite frankly, she has no coverage, and is without proper benefits, then what happens is the fact that between her first, second, and third job, she puts off that doctor's appointment, right? She puts off that preventable care visit. As a result, by the time ALICE finally has to make the time in her schedule in order to come and see us, she is already at stage four of this chronic disease. So she comes in through our most expensive door, through our emergency room. And she's already presenting at such a chronic place, such an incredibly bad stage of her disease, that all we can do is literally provide the most expensive care, right, in order to manage this emergency issue, which, Steve, could have all been prevented had we, in fact, been certain that ALICE had an equitable opportunity to make certain that she could build some community wealth and literally manage the demands on her life. You know, it's so fascinating to me Michellene... I've moderated a fair number of healthcare forums, including within your organization, and one of the..."