Congress' shameful neglect puts health coverage at risk for 84,000 Alabama children on ALL Kids

Arise Citizens’ Policy Project policy director Jim Carnes issued the following statement Monday, Dec. 18, 2017, in response to the announcement of ALL Kids’ pending termination:

“Tens of thousands of Alabama working families learned today – one week before Christmas – that their children will lose health insurance Feb. 1 if Congress continues to delay funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), known here as ALL Kids. Alabama officials had been holding their breath since Congress failed to reauthorize CHIP funding by Sept. 30. They were hoping reserve funds could tide the coverage over for a few months – surely enough time for Congress to act. But today those hopes were dashed.

“ALL Kids’ announcement that it would stop enrolling children in new coverage on Jan. 1 and end the program entirely a month later strikes a painful blow not only to 84,000 ALL Kids children and their families but also to Alabama’s nationally praised gains in children’s health coverage. In the two decades since ALL Kids became the first state CHIP authorized by Congress, our uninsured rate for children has dropped from 20 percent to 2.4 percent. That record has earned Alabama’s program national recognition as the ‘Star of the South.’

“Ending ALL Kids also places a strain on Alabama’s threadbare General Fund. CHIP funds now pay for the health care of around 75,000 children enrolled in Medicaid, who will continue to receive coverage but at new cost to the state.

“In this shameful development, Congress has turned children’s health care – a vital part of family well-being – into a political football. Toying with children’s coverage creates a health hazard in its own right – and an entirely preventable one. Alabama’s hard decision today is a sign of things to come as other states face the grim realities of Congress’ failure to address children’s health needs. Our lawmakers must come to their senses and act now. Every wasted day puts children’s health in greater danger.”

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