Future of children's healthcare in jeopardy

By  | 

Dothan, AL (WTVY)- Thousands of Alabama children will lose health insurance coverage soon if Congress doesn’t provide additional funding for the Child Health Insurance Program. More than 84,000 are insured by All Kids, the state’s version of CHIPS.

Dr. Michael Ramsey examines a newborn child in this January 2, 2018 photo.

The prospect is disturbing to healthcare providers. “(Children’s healthcare) is necessary for education, a strong economy, and the future,” said Dothan pediatrician Dr. Michael Ramsey.

As chairman of the House budget committee, Rep. Steve Clouse (R-Ozark) knows all too well the struggles of funding healthcare. Every year he sees Medicaid costs escalate—they now consume about 40-percent of Alabama’s $1.8 billion general fund budget.

Unlike Medicaid, All Kids provides coverage solely for children whose parents are employed but can’t afford premiums. “A family of four making around $62,000 a year can qualify,” Clouse said.

The U.S. government fully funds All Kids and other CHIPS programs. Clouse believes—in fact, he’s sure--- if Congress doesn’t provide additional funding those covered by All Kids will lose coverage though some, depending on parents’ income, would qualify for Medicaid.

Alabama isn’t the only state that’s nervous. Some nine million children nationwide will lose.

Congress ignored a Sept. 30 deadline to reauthorize funding for CHIPS. In December, as state’s were preparing for the worst, lawmakers added $3 billion in funding to keep the program operating until March, at longest.

State Representative Dexter Grimsley (D-Henry County) said the prospect of losing CHIPS is unacceptable. “We need to make sure our children are covered and receive medical attention when they needed it.”

Meanwhile, Ramsey said its time to stop the uncertainty surrounding children’s healthcare, believing the issue isn’t about patching today but assuring tomorrow.

“By having a child who gets the therapy they need, gets the services they need they can actually work on not be on disability when their older.”