The $35 million Alabama needs for a federal health care program for low- and mid-income children isn’t in either of the state’s two budgets progressing through the Alabama Legislature. Lawmakers appear to disagree about whether the 2020 funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program belongs in the General Fund, which funds Medicaid and other public health expenses, or the education budget, as Gov. Kay Ivey suggested. Read more.
BirminghamWatch’s Nick Patterson looked at the importance of the CHIP program before it was renewed by Congress last year.
MONTGOMERY — Gov. Kay Ivey introduced her education and General Fund budgets to state lawmakers this week, with popular provisions like a teacher pay raise, increases for cash-strapped agencies and more money to expand the state’s First Class pre-kindergarten program.
State House budget leaders said Thursday they didn’t see major changes coming to Ivey’s proposed $2.1 billion General Fund budget and $7.1 billion education budget this week, with one possible exception.
Ivey’s proposed education budget — the largest in the state’s history — allocates about $35 million for Children’s Health Insurance Program, which historically has been paid for with General Fund dollars. Read more.
Just when CHIP recipients thought the health insurance program for children was safe, President Donald Trump cast its future in doubt.
The White House, which has previously signaled support for the program that provides funding to insure about 150,000 Alabama kids and millions nationwide, proposed cutting $7 billion from the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
News reports indicate that $2 billion of the cuts would come from a contingency fund originally designed to backstop shortfalls in state funding. That contingency fund was left standing after Congress authorized funding for CHIP.
The other $5 billion would come from funding that Congress authorized for CHIP but that states haven’t spent yet. CNN quoted one administration official as saying, “This is money that was never going to be spent.”
While the White House is not proposing cuts that would eliminate CHIP, parents and others who support the program have long held that CHIP is too important to endanger or use as a political football.
Read BirminghamWatch’s previous coverage:
Funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program was extended for six years in the compromise budget bill passed by Congress and signed by the president Monday.
Alabama and many other states had been particularly concerned about funding for the program, which was in danger of running out next month.
BirminghamWatch focused on the insurance program, known in Alabama as All Kids, in the first of a planned series exploring the connections between Alabama and Washington.
Read the story about the effect the federal funding has in the state:
Advocates for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, popularly known as CHIP, took heart when Congress and the president authorized temporary funding measures that would keep the government from shutting down and keep CHIP going through the first of 2018.
This was no Christmas miracle – just a temporary reprieve. Nevertheless, for the beneficiaries of ALL Kids, the Alabama Department of Public Health unit that administers CHIP funds to provide insurance for 83,000 Alabama kids, it was a welcome reprieve.
“I don’t know specifically, I don’t know dollar amounts,” said Cathy Caldwell, executive director of ALL Kids, “but I have had some preliminary conversations with CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) and it appears that it will give us an additional three-four weeks’ worth of funding.”
Besides the ALL Kids funding, about 77,000 children are insured by CHIP funding through Alabama’s Medicaid system. Those children would still have insurance even if Congress fails to act – although the state would have to pick up the cost for insuring them.
Because ALL Kids was expected to run out of funding in February, that would appear to give the children it covers a reprieve until March – unless Congress turns the situation around first.
But Caldwell was cautious. Read more.