By Samuel Mattison
Alabama Political Reporter
The Alabama Department of Public Health requested the funding of the childcare program, CHIP, as the federal funding of the program is stalled in Congress.
The department, along with other state agencies, met on Thursday with the joint budget committee to present its draft on next year’s budget.
CHIP, a topic of late in terms of funding, was an expensive item on their budget at a cost of $53 million. The federal government funded the program in full, but that funding ended last September and now the state must fund the program by at least 20 percent.
The funds were calculated on the anticipation that federal funding won’t be available for next year’s budget. Members of the joint budget committee were skeptical of the request, and showed some hesitation of allocating so much money from the general fund.
Federal mandates make changing eligibility requirements impossible, leaving few options for reducing the cost of ALL Kids, the Alabama version of CHIP. State Rep. Lynn Greer, a member of the committee, said that he wished the eligibility could be changed to better fit Alabama’s budget.
Without funding from the state Government, ADPH said the agency would need to start freezing enrollment by February and unroll CHIP recipients by March. Questions about what Congress will do were a key factor in discussing the future budget of ADPH.
Members from the ADPH and the committee were sure that funding would come down from the federal government as two bills, a Senate and House bill, make thier way through Congress.
The request from the ADPH is another point in an arduous journey that started in September with funding for CHIP running out. Since that time, funding for the program was always in the air with the ADPH even saying that they would freeze enrollment by New Years Day in December.
A last-minute boost of funding kept the program afloat through January, but now the funding is up in the air as the bills are still in Congress.