83k Alabama children may lose health insurance due to missed deadline by Congress

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On September 30, federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) expired. Across the country, states are readying themselves for what happens when their current funds run out.

ALL KidsIn Alabama, funds for ALL Kids — the state’s CHIP that is administered by the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) — is poised to be depleted in February should Congress not reauthorize funding for the program. Meaning the 83,000 families who rely on the service will lose access to health care.

“Our best estimates indicate that we will exhaust CHIP funds in February,” Cathy Caldwell, Director of the Bureau of Children’s Health Insurance at the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) told Alabama Today.

More than 83,000 children in the state are covered by All Kids program. Meanwhile, another 75,000 are covered by an Alabama Medicaid component of CHIP.

ALL Kids covers eligible children that live in Alabama whose households make up to 312 percent of the poverty line — up to $51,481 a year for a household of two, up to $64,732 for a household of three, and up to $77,982 for a household of four. Qualifying families  pay premiums, which  range from $52 to $104 per child per year, depending on income, along with co-pays

Children must also:

  • Be under age 19
  • Be a U.S. citizen or an eligible immigrant
  • Not be covered by other insurance
  • Not be a resident in an institution
  • Not be covered by or eligible for Medicaid

At the moment Alabama has no set plans when to warn families the program is ending.

“We have not yet finalized a date,” added Caldwell.

On Nov. 3, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to reauthorize CHIP by a 242 to 174 vote, largely along party lines with Republicans overwhelming supporting the legislation and Democrats against it. The bill advanced to the U.S. Senate, which has yet to take up its own version that passed out of committee last month.

It remains unclear if, and when, CHIP will be reauthorized.

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