More than three weeks after the deadline to renew the Children’s Health Insurance Program, the Congressional Budget Office has released an analysis of the five-year extension bill, which would extend the bill to 2022 so they can make a few changes, including revamping federal matching rates. The CBO analysis, which also indicated the proposed legislation would increase the federal deficit by $8.2 billion by 2027, is causing Alabama and other states to fear and doubt the CHIP funding.
Nationally, CHIP provides insurance for children up to age 19 whose households make up to 312 percent of the poverty line – up to $50,688 a year for a household of two, and up to $63,710 for a household of three. Qualifying families pay premiums – ranging from $52 to $104 per child per year, depending on income – as well as co-pays. ALL Kids, administered by the Alabama Department of Public Health, covers about 83,000 children, while about 70,000 CHIP recipients fall under Alabama Medicaid.
The Medical Association was a vital in creating CHIP in Alabama more than 20 years ago as a way to provide more health insurance coverage to children of families with low and moderate incomes. Although this is a nationwide crisis, Alabama’s program has funds to continue through March, while some states may lose all their funding by December.
Studies credit CHIP with a steep decline in the number of uninsured children in the country and particularly successful in Alabama. A 2014 study credited CHIP with reducing the number of uninsured children in Alabama 18 percent between 2011 and 2014.
“The benefits package for children is very comprehensive,” said Dr. Wes Stubblefield, a Florence pediatrician and president of the Alabama Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. “It’s everything recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics that’s recommended as a standard of care for children for preventative care.”
The Medical Association will continue to monitor the progress of this proposed legislation and is eager to work with lawmakers toward a positive solution.