Lawmakers hope CHIPs funding could come this week

Lawmakers hope CHIPs funding could come this week

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Funding for the Child Health Insurance Program is just one part of a larger funding debate up in Washington. Lawmakers have until Friday to figure out how it will fund the government or see a government shut down.

However, for Alabama, most eyes are on the future of CHIPs funding.

"Well, CHIP is the unknown at this point. We are waiting to see what the federal government is going to do with CHIP," Senate Pro Tem Del Marsh said last Tuesday.

Chairman of the House General fund Steve Clouse, R-Ozark, said much of what the state can do with its current budget depends on if the federal government pays for the CHIP program.

Newly elected U.S. senator Doug Jones made funding CHIPs central to his campaign. Jones is one of more than 20 co-sponsors on a bill which would extend funding for the program for the next five years.

"I think that's the appropriate thing to do. It's what I talked about in the campaign, it means a lot to 150,000 kids in this state," Jones said.

"If they do the way they have talked about in the house and the senate that will certainly give us some breathing room," Clouse said.

If the feds do not find money for the program, Alabama would find itself in a more than $40 million budget hole. However, with bipartisian support, many expect Washington to approve long term funding for the program.

"I think it's a huge impact. It says a lot of different things. Number one, it's an impact economically, but more importantly to me it's an impact for these children and their families" Jones said.

The bill would add an estimated $800 million to the national debt over 10 years.

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