Alabama Gov. Bentley Would Boot 16,000 Kids From State’s Health Insurance Program

Nearly 16,000 of the 84,000 children currently on Alabama’s ALL KIDS health insurance program would lose their coverage should the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services grant Gov. Robert Bentley (R) permission to make drastic cuts to the program in an effort to assuage the state’s budget woes. ALL KIDS is one of the most successfully operated children’s health insurance programs in the nation, allowing low-earning government employees to enroll their children in the insurance program. Yet, in spite of receiving a $55 million performance bonus early last year from the federal government, Bentley argues that the state can no longer afford its share of the costs to keep ALL KIDS running — Alabama picks up 22 percent of the costs, while the federal government picks up the remaining 78 percent. Bentley’s plan lowers “the threshold of eligible children from 300 percent of the federal poverty level and below to 200 percent and below,” a move that would save the state money in the short term, but could ultimately end up sending more children to the emergency room for more costly treatments, and thus costing the state more in the longrun. — Fatima Najiy