Alabama prepares to freeze, end insurance program

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — More than 80,000 Alabama children will lose health insurance on Feb. 1. unless Congress restores funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program,

Citing Congress' failure to renew funding for the program, Alabama health officials announced steps to freeze, and then close, the program, known, as ALL Kids, that provides subsidized insurance for working families.

The state will freeze enrollment on Jan. 1. Alabama would end benefits for all 84,000 children on Feb. 1 unless Congress acts to renew the program by then.

Cathy Caldwell, director of Alabama's CHIP program, said the program's closure will be devastating for many families. She said the program helped bring down the number of children who go without health insurance in the state from one in five in the 1990s to 2.4 percent today.