MADISON COUNTY, Ala. -- All Kids, the Alabama version of the nation-wide Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), is in danger of shutting permanently.
All Kids is a program for children from low-income families who don't qualify for Medicaid, or aren't covered by their parents work insurance plans. "It's a huge impact. This really serves a vital need for thousands of families across the state," said Jim Carnes.
Carnes is Arise Citizens' Policy Project Policy Director. He said this is a huge blow to the 84,000 Alabama children covered by All Kids.
"Come January, 7,000 kids who would be up for renewal for that month will be told you can't renew, you don't have coverage," he said.
And that's just in January. On February 1, 2018 coverage will stop completely for everyone in the program, regardless of re-enrollment date. Carnes added, "And all of a sudden these parents have to wonder, is my kid going to be able to go to the doctor? And that's not something you want any parent to worry about, especially here at the holidays."
He said this is a mistake because the program has proven success. In 1998 the rate of uninsured children in Alabama was 20 percent.
"Today after 20 years of steady, reliable performance by the All Kids program, our children's uninsured rate is only 2.4 percent," said Carnes.
Carnes said the All Kids program has been a point of pride for Alabama. "When Congress created the State Children's Health Insurance Program back in 1997, Alabama was the first state to launch a program, to get our program approved, and up and running."
Carnes said this program is one thing Alabama has been able to brag about for 20 years. He said he wishes the Alabama delegation in Congress would say, "This is a flagship program for us and we have led the nation in this effort and improving children's health insurance. So we're going to drop everything until we can get this done."
The group is encouraging Alabamians who feel the program should continue to get in touch with their United States Representatives and Senators about the issue. "Call, call, call," said Carnes, and ask them to "please make this a top priority before Congress leaves for the holiday break."