Health care funding for thousands of Alabama children reauthorized

(Source: WSFA 12 News file photo)
(Source: WSFA 12 News file photo)
Updated: Jan. 22, 2018 at 9:50 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA/AP) - The parents of more than 150,000 Alabama kids can finally rest knowing their children will not lose their health coverage: Congress has approved a bipartisan agreement to re-open the federal government through Feb. 8.

The short-term funding measure includes a six-year reauthorization of the children's health insurance program.

CHIP provides coverage for millions of young people in families with modest incomes.

In Alabama the program is split between Medicaid and the Alabama Department of Public Health, which operates ALL Kids. Between the two more than 150,000 children in Alabama are covered.

Jim Carnes policy director at Alabama Arise says it should not have taken this long.

"Families across Alabama deserve to breathe a sigh of relief, but it never should have come to this. CHIP funding deserved a quick, straightforward renewal before it expired nearly four months ago. Delaying the renewal and tying it to other important issues was unnecessary and irresponsible," said Carnes.

For the ALL Kids program this means they will be able to avoid an enrollment freeze and continue their mission of providing life-saving coverage.

"It has been a long time coming, but we are very happy. It really made a difference that Alabama citizens called members of congress and let their voices be heard," said Cathy Caldwell, ADPH CHIP Director.

And families who depend on this coverage are not the only ones relieved; this is also a big relief for our state legislators. If CHIP had not been renewed Alabama would have had to pick up the tab for children who get their Medicaid paid for through the program.

State leaders reacted Monday afternoon, saying:

Gov. Kay Ivey:

"I am thankful that Congress has finally passed a continuing resolution to fund the Federal Government, including a six-year reauthorization of the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). I have continually supported CHIP funding because approximately 159,000 Alabama children depend on it for their health insurance. Caring for our children and meeting their healthcare needs is a bipartisan issue; I appreciate Alabama's Congressional Delegation for playing a key role in ensuring continued funding for CHIP."

Rep. Terri Sewell:

"Today's vote to reopen the government and fund CHIP was an important bipartisan step forward. I am disappointed that it took as long as it did for Republicans to work with Democrats, but I am hopeful that today's deal lays the groundwork for both parties to address some of our nation's biggest challenges, from healthcare to immigration to care for our veterans. For Alabama families who depend on ALL Kids, for the men and women in the Armed Forces, for federal health researchers, for Alabama's hospitals, and for all of my constituents, this legislation is a step towards future cooperation."

"Today's agreement is far from perfect. Congress must pass a budget with long-term funding that gives our federal agencies the certainty they need. A permanent extension of CHIP, rather than six years of funding, would have been more cost efficient and protected healthcare for children into the future. And today's bill does not fund expired Medicare programs, reauthorize Community Health Centers, provide a solution for DREAMers, or address many of our nation's other top priorities. With the additional time that today's legislation buys, I will hold Republicans to their promise to work with Democrats on solutions to address these issues."

Rep. Martha Roby:

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