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Economy

CHIP program changes will cost Alabama an estimated $1 billion over the next decade

Brandon Moseley

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Recent changes to the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) means that the state of Alabama is going to have to shoulder substantially more of the cost for the program. An estimated 220,000 children receive their health insurance through the CHIP program, which is managed by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama (BCBSAL) and marketed under the name: ALL Kids.

Wednesday state general fund (SGF) agencies made their 2020 budget request presentations in hearings to the joint House and Senate budget committees of the Alabama Legislature.

Alabama Department of Public Health Officer Scott Harris told the state budget committees that starting in 2020 the state of Alabama will have to pay a 20 percent match for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). CHIP is presently 100 percent federally funded; but that is changing.

Harris told the legislature that the change in the program means that the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) will need an additional line item in the budget for CHIP. The program will cost ADPH $23.4 million in the fiscal year 2020 general fund budget. Harris told the legislature that that cost will rise to $60.4 million in the fiscal year 2021 general fund budget and to $66 million in the fiscal year 2022 budget.

Alabama Medicaid Commissioner Stephanie Azar told the Alabama legislature that Alabama Medicaid will also have to pick up a portion of the state’s CHIP cost.

Azar told the Alabama Political Reporter that the change in the CHIP match will cost Alabama Medicaid $15 to $20 million of general fund dollars during fiscal year 2020 and an additional $35 to $40 million in the fiscal year 2021 general fund.

Combined the CHIP match will cost the two state agencies $38.4 million to $43.4 million in fiscal year 2020, $95.4 to $99.4 million in fiscal year 2021, and between $101 million and $106 million in fiscal year 2022.

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Factoring in inflation, rising medical costs and population growth the change in CHIP could cost the state general fund an estimated $1 billion over the next decade, assuming that the state has to continue to pay the twenty percent match going forward.

In 2010 Congress passed legislation changing the CHIP program from an 80 percent federal: 20 percent state program to one hundred percent federally funded. On January 22, 2018, Congress renewed CHIP for another six years; but when they did, they reverted to the previous 80:20 split, passing a fifth of the costs on to state budgets.

The Alabama Political Reporter reached out to Congresswoman Terri Sewell (D-Selma) about what her thoughts are on the present standing on the CHIP situation.

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“I am working to secure as much federal funding as possible to help ensure the over 220,000 children in Alabama who rely on CHIP get the health care they need,” Rep. Sewell said. “However, the Alabama legislature has actively chosen for years to leave federal funding on the table that could help cover the cost of insuring some children currently enrolled in CHIP.”

Rep. Sewell thinks that the state should expand Medicaid.

“I introduced legislation earlier this month to fully fund Medicaid expansion in Alabama for the first several years after the legislature acts, which would reduce the state’s immediate financial burden,” Rep. Sewell said.

Azar told the legislature that the Alabama Medicaid Agency cost $6.5 billion. Over seventy percent of the Medicaid money is federal dollars. Medicaid costs Alabama’s state general fund $755 million. Medicaid is by far the largest item in the state general fund budget.

Brandon Moseley is a senior reporter with eight and a half years at Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Facebook. Brandon is a native of Moody, Alabama, a graduate of Auburn University, and a seventh generation Alabamian.

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Economy

New unemployment claims decreased last week

Fewer people joined the unemployment rolls last week compared to the week before.

Micah Danney

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(STOCK PHOTO)

There were 7,964 new unemployment claims filed in Alabama last week, down from 8,581 filed the previous week, according to the Alabama Department of Labor. 

Of the claims filed between Oct. 11 and Oct. 17, there were 4,032 related to the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s 51 percent, compared to 36 percent the previous week.

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Economy

Governor announces auto supplier IAC plans Alabama expansion

IAC is committing $34.3 million in new capital investment to expand its new manufacturing facility located in Tuscaloosa County.

Brandon Moseley

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(STOCK PHOTO)

Gov. Kay Ivey announced Monday that International Automotive Components Group North America Inc. plans to invest over $55.9 million in expansion projects that will create 182 jobs at two Alabama facilities.

“International Automotive Components is a leading global auto supplier, and I am pleased that this world-class company is growing significantly in Alabama and creating good jobs in Cottondale and Anniston,” Ivey said. “IAC’s growth plans show that Alabama’s dynamic auto industry continues to expand despite today’s challenging environment.”

Nick Skwiat is the executive vice president and president of IAC North America.

“Alabama was the logical choice due to its skilled workforce and proximity to the customer,” Skwiat said. “We are excited to see the continued growth of the automotive industry in Alabama and we plan to grow right along with it. We thank the Governor and Secretary Canfield for their leadership in this sector.”

IAC is committing $34.3 million in new capital investment to expand its new manufacturing facility located in Tuscaloosa County. This facility will produce door panels and overhead systems for original equipment manufacturers. That project will create 119 jobs at the production site in Cottondale.

IAC also plans to invest $21.6 million at its manufacturing facility located in the former Fort McClellan in Anniston. That East Alabama project will create another 63 jobs.

This project builds on a milestone 2014 expansion that doubled the size of the Calhoun County facility. There IAC manufactures automotive interior components and systems. Key components produced at the Anniston plant include door panels, trim systems and instrument panels for original equipment manufacturers.

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IAC Group is a leading global supplier of innovative and sustainable instrument panels, consoles, door panels, overhead systems, bumper fascias and exterior ornamentation for original equipment manufacturers.

IAC is headquartered in Luxembourg and has more than 18,000 employees at 67 locations in 17 countries. The company operates manufacturing facilities in eight U.S. states.

“With operations around the globe, IAC is the kind of high-performance company that we want in Alabama’s auto supply chain to help fuel sustainable growth,” said Alabama Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield. “We look forward to working with IAC and facilitating its future growth in this strategic industrial sector.”

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Danielle Winningham is the executive director of the Tuscaloosa County Industrial Development Authority.

“International Automotive Components is a valued part of Tuscaloosa County’s automotive sector,” Winningham said. “We are grateful for IAC’s investment in our community and the career opportunities available to our area workforce as a result of their investment.”

“The City of Anniston is excited that IAC has made the decision to expand here. I have enjoyed working with the leadership at IAC, the Calhoun County EDC, and the state of Alabama to get this project finalized,” said Anniston Mayor Jack Draper. “This is even further evidence that Anniston is indeed open for business.”

Only Michigan has more automobile manufacturing jobs than the state of Alabama. Honda, Mercedes, Hyundai, Polaris, Toyota and soon Mazda all have major automobile assembly plants in the state of Alabama.

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Courts

Aderholt fully supports Barrett’s confirmation process

Confirmation hearings began last week and a vote on her confirmation is expected in the next week just days before the general election.

Brandon Moseley

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Congressman Robert Aderholt

Congressman Robert Aderholt, R-Alabama, updated his constituents on the confirmation process for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett. Aderholt said, “I do support her fully and I know she will defend life, protect the Constitution, and uphold our freedoms.”

Confirmation hearings began last week and a vote on her confirmation is expected in the next week just days before the general election.

“Senate Democrats are not seriously questioning Judge Barrett on her credentials, instead they have decided to attack her character and her beliefs,” Aderholt said. “I am disappointed to see this unfold on the national stage, but I think Judge Barrett stood strong and did well during this first week of hearings.”

“While I do not have a vote in her confirmation process, I do support her fully and I know she will defend life, protect the Constitution, and uphold our freedoms when she is officially sworn in as an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court,” Aderholt said.

Barrett is a Notre Dame graduate, has served on the U.S. Seventh Court of Appeals and is a former clerk for the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

“I clerked for Justice Scalia more than 20 years ago, but the lessons I learned still resonate,” Barrett said. “His judicial philosophy is mine, too: A judge must apply the law as written. Judges are not policymakers, and they must be resolute in setting aside any policy views they might hold.”

Barrett vowed to keep an open mind on any matter that comes before the court, though Democrats fear she is prepared to overturn Supreme Court precedent on abortion rights and the Affordable Care Act.

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That the Republican controlled committee will recommend that Barrett be confirmed appears certain. A vote to confirm Barrett to the nation’s highest court by the full Senate could occur just days ahead of the Nov. 3 election.

President Donald Trump has been the president of the United States for less than four years but if Barrett is confirmed, then he will have selected one third of the U.S. Supreme Court. Barrett fills a place created by the death of the late Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died in September.

Aderholt is in his 12th term representing Alabama’s 4th Congressional District. He faces Democratic nominee Rick Neighbors in the Nov. 3 general election.

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Economy

New unemployment claims increased last week

More people joined the unemployment rolls last week than the week before.

Micah Danney

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(STOCK PHOTO)

There were 8,581 new unemployment claims filed in Alabama last week, up from 7,732 filed the previous week, according to the Alabama Department of Labor. 

Of the claims filed between Oct. 4 and Oct. 10, there were 3,125 related to the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s 36 percent, compared to 51 percent the previous week.

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