Less Medicaid funding could limit medical services to children in poverty

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - If the Alabama legislature doesn't fully fund state Medicaid spending, it could mean some local children living in poverty could lose basic medical, dental, and vision care.

“We work from babies all the way up to the age 19," says Connie Carnes, executive director of HEALS Clinics. “These are children who live in extreme poverty and they’re the most vulnerable children, and they need medical care.”

HEALS Clinics make it easier on low-income families to be able to get the medical services they need for their children by being located on several Huntsville City Schools campuses. If Alabama doesn't fully fund Medicaid spending this year, it could prevent how many families HEALS' clinics are able to serve.

“These children may have to go without services because we don’t have the funding," says Carnes.

She says about 30 percent of the non-profit's funding gets reimbursed by state Medicaid dollars. The rest comes from donations from the community. "We actually only draw from Medicaid when we’ve actually provided the services so it’s pretty much a week to week, day-to-day thing. How the funding comes in, if it’s cut, the amount per service will decrease," she says.

Carnes says all of that stress is worth it, knowing children are getting the care they need. “If people could see the difference in a child’s face when they’re able to open their eyes and see the world differently because they have new glasses... I know not everyone can see it. But it really makes a difference," says Carnes.

A type of difference that's worth every penny. “Kids who are healthy can learn better. They can succeed more in school they’ll have less  behavioral problems... it’s very far-reaching," she says.