By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Families and medical providers across Alabama have expressed concerns about their children’s health insurance program if Congress does not vote to continue funding the program.
“I want to give everyone an update on this very serious situation. I contacted Congressman Robert Aderholt today and he brought me up to speed on what’s taking place on the CHIP funding. First the House passed this funding months ago but the Senate never acted on it, so the House added it to the Government funding bill that should be voted on tomorrow. This current bill will fund the program for the next two years,” state Rep. Mack Butler, R-Rainbow City, said on social media.
9 million children across the country get their health insurance through this program. The program is authorized through 2019, but funding expired for the program on September 30. The state of Alabama has said that it can not continue to operate the program after February 1 without the promised federal funding.
Congressman Robert Aderholt serves on the House Appropriations committee.
On Friday, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, tweeted that Congress would pass a long-term CHIP bill this week before leaving for their Christmas break.
The program provides insurance for children in families who make too much money to get insurance through traditional Medicaid; but whose families don’t make enough to get regular health insurance coverage. CHIP is an $8 billion a year program.
“The reason CHIP is having trouble is because we don’t have money anymore,” Senate Finance Committee Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said. “We just add more and more spending and more and more spending, and you can look at the rest of the bill for the more and more spending. We’re going to do CHIP, there’s no question about it in my mind. It has to be done the right way,” Hatch said.
As of press time, the U.S. Senate had passed H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Now that they have finished that, the CHIP reauthorization can be taken up.
Butler is running for state Senate in 2018 for the seat being vacated by Sen. Phil Williams, R-Rainbow City.
Alabama legislators are studying their options if the Congress does not provide CHIP funding, meanwhile, families on the program are getting letters that their children won’t be covered going forward after February 1. Applications for the program are being halted.
(Original reporting by the intercept and CNN contributed to this report.)