By Chip Brownlee
Alabama Political Reporter
Democratic Senate candidate Doug Jones is hitting Republican Roy Moore for refusing to answer questions on his non-support for the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
“Sadly, Roy Moore’s refusal to support the CHIP heath care program, which provides health insurance coverage to more than 150,000 Alabama children, further demonstrates that he simply does not care about the people of this state,” Jones said. “He wants the government out of the health care business, which means endangering Medicare for our seniors. Now, he wants to hurt children too.”
If the U.S. Congress can’t get to a deal on funding for CHIP, more than 80,000 children in Alabama could be without health insurance as soon as next spring. Congress in September failed to authorize the reauthorize funding for the program, which expired on Sept. 30 at the end of the 2017 Fiscal Year. And without that federal funding, Alabama’s “All Kids” Chip program could be exhausted by early next year.
More than 83,000 children in the state are covered by All Kids and another 75,000 are covered by a separate Medicaid component of CHIP. Both programs provide coverage for more than 9 million children across the U.S.
Moore, who spoke with Republican Senators at their weekly policy luncheon on Tuesday, avoided directly talking about the program. His campaign released the following statement.
“While Doug Jones supports Obamacare, which raised insurance premiums through the roof for many Americans, Judge Moore supports patient-centered health care solutions fostered under the free enterprise systems that would put medical decisions in the hands of doctors and patients, not government bureaucrats,” his campaign said.
Like many of Alabama’s other health insurance programs, All Kids — one component of Alabama’s CHIP system — couldn’t function without federal funding. In All Kids’ case, one hundred percent of the cost is covered through federal funding.
“Alabamians need leaders who will place a priority on improving the health care of all citizens, children and seniors,” Jones said. “Roy Moore has shown time and again that the interests of the people of Alabama are simply not on his agenda.”
Those covered under All Kids would have to find other insurance or go without, were the program to shut down. If no deal is reached, Alabama would lose an estimated $280 million in funding for CHIP, according to the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission.
While the state awaits some sort of action from Congress, All Kids will continue using a $118 million windfall from the Fiscal Year 2017 budget, which should give the program some leeway to continue operating until about March, according to ADPH’s best estimates, or April, according to MACPAC.
“Alabama’s CHIP program has funds to operate through March, according to reports by the Montgomery Advertiser,” said Moroe campaign chairman Bill Armistead. “If elected senator on December 12th, Judge Moore looks forward to immediately reviewing fiscally-responsible options for CHIP’s future funding.”
The other component of CHIP in Alabama is run as part of the Medicaid system, with children from families at or below 146 percent of the poverty level receiving health insurance coverage. That component of the program — which covers another 75,000 children — would stay, but the state would have to pump more money into the program in order to receive the typical match provided as part of the federal funding mechanism for Medicaid.