Alabama to freeze enrollment in children’s health program in two weeks


Alabama will freeze enrollment in its children’s health insurance program soon if Congress doesn’t reauthorize funding for the program. 

The state announced Monday that it would no longer enroll children in its “ALL Kids” program for low-income children, starting on Jan. 1, because Congress has not yet reauthorized funding for the program. 

Federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) expired at the end of September, but states weren’t expected to run out of money until the end of the year or early next year. 

Some states have already sent out notices to families telling them their coverage might be canceled if Congress doesn’t act soon to reauthorize the program. 

Alabama is the first state to announce an enrollment freeze. All applications received on or after Jan. 1 will be processed for Medicaid eligibility or the health insurance marketplace. 

State officials also said it would end coverage for enrollees Feb. 1 unless Congress acts. 

Democrats and Republicans have been negotiating for months over how to pay for the CHIP extension, but have yet to reach an agreement. 

House Republicans released a spending bill last week that would fund CHIP for five years, but would pay for it with cuts that Democrats don’t support. 

Because Republicans have such a slim majority in the Senate, Democratic support is needed for the bill. 

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) said Friday that Congress would pass a long-term CHIP bill this week. 

That could indicate that it would be attached to the stopgap spending bill Congress hopes to pass later this week.   

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