The Medical Association, the Alabama Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, state lawmakers and a number of organizations advocating for children’s health care are petitioning the Alabama Congressional Delegation to support reauthorization of a bipartisan CHIP funding bill before the Sept. 30 deadline. In a letter to the Alabama Congressional Delegation outlining support for CHIP reauthorization, the coalition cited the great strides made possible through CHIP in ensuring children have access to the care they need. As well, any reductions in federal CHIP funding could cause problems for not only Alabama’s ALL Kids program but also children enrolled in Alabama Medicaid.
Below is the letter, and more signees are expected before the Sept. 30 deadline. Download a copy of the letter here.
We, the undersigned Alabama elected officials and organizations advocating for children and pregnant women in our state, write to urge your support of the Hatch-Wyden bill, Keeping Kids’ Insurance Dependable and Secure (KIDS) Act (S. 1827). This bipartisan legislation ensures stability for vulnerable children by extending funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for five years. The bill also provides additional protections for low-income children and increases flexibility for states.
As you know, federal funding for CHIP expires on September 30, 2017. Without certainty from Congress on CHIP funding, states will be forced to make drastic cuts to the program. This could mean slashing enrollment, reducing benefits, and imposing higher costs for families.
CHIP is a bipartisan success story. The program was created in 1997 and has been championed by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle since its very beginning. Together with Medicaid, CHIP has helped to reduce the numbers of uninsured children by a remarkable 68 percent. Now is the time for Congress to stabilize the CHIP funding stream and protect the gains in children’s health coverage that have resulted in more than 95 percent of all children in America being enrolled in some form of insurance coverage.
The program is designed around what children need. It offers benefits that are age-appropriate, including dental coverage and mental health and substance abuse services, which may not be covered by a family’s employer-sponsored insurance.
CHIP plans include networks of pediatricians, pediatric medical and surgical subspecialists, and children’s hospitals, which are especially critical for children with special health care needs.
Families deserve peace of mind knowing that they will be able to access the care and support services their children rely on to be healthy.
Currently in Alabama, 157,000 children are covered by CHIP, known as ALL Kids in our state. With state budgets already set for the coming year, states are counting on CHIP to continue in its current form. Changes to CHIP’s structure – including changes to the Maintenance of Effort or the enhanced CHIP matching rate – would cause significant disruption in children’s coverage and leave states with critical shortfalls in their budgets. Given CHIP’s track record of success, changes to CHIP that would cause harm to children must not be made. In Alabama, we would be forced to use funds originally appropriated for Alabama Medicaid to keep children covered on CHIP. So lack of continued funding at its current level would mean a double hit for Alabama!
Today, we stand united in urging you and your colleagues to work together to enact a five-year extension of CHIP funding. Securing this critical source of coverage for children and pregnant women into the future is an important opportunity for meaningful, bipartisan action to honor CHIP’s 20 years of success.
Thank you for all you do for our state and the children of Alabama.
Representative Steve Clouse, Chair, House Ways and Means General Fund Committee
Representative Anthony Daniels, House Minority Leader
Representative Nathaniel Ledbetter, House Majority Leader
Representative Mac McCutcheon, Speaker of the House
Representative April Weaver, Chair, House Health Committee
Senator Del Marsh, Senate President Pro Tempore
Senator Jim McClendon, Chair, Senate Health & Human Services Committee
Senator Greg Reed, Senate Majority Leader
Alabama Academy of Family Physicians
Alabama Chapter-American Academy of Pediatrics
Alabama Children First
Alabama Hospital Association
Children’s of Alabama
Medical Association of the State of Alabama
UAB Health System
University of South Alabama Health System
VOICES for Alabama’s Children