The Trump administration requested that Congress cut $7 billion from the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which is an issue that hits close to home for Alabama families.
The Children’s Health Insurance Program, better known as CHIP, is a program that provides health insurance to poor families, and the program is particularly popular in rural Alabama, where Trump won in some places by double digits.
Trump’s administration said the move was an effort to cut “out-of-control” spending, but Alabama is still clamoring for federal program and the coverage it provides to nearly 160,000 children in the state. According to a 2017 Georgetown University study, 42 percent of children in Alabama rely on Medicaid/CHIP for health insurance coverage.
The White House says the $7 billion being rescinded are negligible funds that would have never been spent in the first place, but some are worried that the $2 billion cut from the program’s contingency plan could worry parents. The contingency fund is the emergency fund used by the program to fill unanticipated gaps in funding.
“I think the cut to the contingency fund is particularly troubling,” Bruce Lesley, president of the child advocacy group First Focus, said according to the Kaiser Health News.
For Alabama, the uncertainty could be a problem.
As it stands now, Alabama requires the federal government to fund the entirety of Alabama’s CHIP program “All Kids.” Funding for the program has been a concern to Alabama health officials.
Just this year, a pending shutdown of the federal government put the program in jeopardy with Alabama Department of Health Officials closing enrollment of the program until Congress could work out funding for the program.
At the Legislature’s budget hearing in January, the department requested that Alabama make up for the funding shortfall, but legislators were skeptical of the large request that would only cover 20 percent of Alabama’s overall funding.
Alabama is now heading to a budget shortfall and state officials put the deficit in Alabama’s budget in the tens of millions.
Trump’s recommendations go to Congress for their approval, but key Republicans signaled their opposition on Tuesday.