The Children’s Health Insurance Program has provided greater access to health care for children and adolescents and greater financial protection for Alabama families for the past 25 years, and the program has marked this milestone. by a festive anniversary celebration, which included a press conference and reception at Montgomery.
Governor Kay Ivey has proclaimed October 14 Children’s Medicare Day in Alabama. His recorded message, played at the press conference, applauded the universally popular program which has had a great impact on child health care in the state.
“Over the past 25 years, the children’s health insurance program, known as ALL Kids in Alabama, has opened new doors to quality health care for more than 1.6 million children in our state by providing an excellent comprehensive health coverage plan,” Governor Ivey said. . “I want to congratulate the Alabama Children’s Health Insurance Program for reaching its silver anniversary and for making a positive impact on Alabama families. I have designated October 14 as Children’s Day. children’s health insurance program to celebrate this special occasion.
State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said, “This milestone could not have been achieved without the cooperation of our partners and our CHIP team over the years. Prior to the program’s launch, at least 15 percent of Alabama’s children were uninsured, and now Alabama ranks higher in insuring children than the United States as a whole. We continue to strive to improve the health outcomes and lives of this vulnerable population.
Dr Harris praised the leadership and continuity of the program which has significantly changed lives by providing access to care through insurance coverage. Former state health worker Dr. Donald Williamson and two former CHIP directors reflected on how the program has evolved and expanded despite challenges. Alabama’s CHIP program is the result of a partnership between the Alabama Department of Public Health, the Alabama Medicaid Agency, and the Alabama Child Caring Foundation.
Other partners in the federal-state partnership include the medical community, American Academy of Pediatrics, Alabama Chapter; the Alabama Academy of Family Physicians; Children’s of Alabama, the University of South Alabama Women’s and Children’s Hospital, Alabama Governors and Legislators over the years, and many others, including several commissioners of Medicaid Services, Health mental and rehabilitation, and many advocacy groups.
Due to provisions of the Affordable Care Act, in addition to the ALL Kids program, CHIP also funds two groups of Medicaid-eligible children (MCHIP) and the program works in conjunction with Medicaid in a dual-eligibility enrollment system which keeps the application process streamlined and easy for applicants to navigate by offering the “no wrong door” approach.
Dr Williamson, who led the department when the scheme was enacted in 1997 until his retirement in 2015, said the goal of child advocacy groups from the start was to ensure as many eligible children as possible with a minimum of copays. He said, “Our children’s cover stands out as a shining beacon, and I’m very grateful to have played a small part in it.”
Gayle Sandlin, the program’s founding director, called her career with CHIP a “phenomenal experience” and thanked Dr. Williamson and former assistant Kathy Vincent for their vision and determination to establish and maintain the program as a priority. Alabama was the first state in the nation to have its CHIP plan approved. Early accomplishments included the establishment of program eligibility by declaration and an early effort for electronic application.
CHIP Alabama’s second director, Cathy Caldwell, described the program’s implementation as “a collaborative process from day one”; praised “the passion, energy and commitment of so many entities” and the decision to make every political decision favorable to the family.
Pictured at the signing of the proclamation are, left to right, Dr. Scott Harris, state health officer; Keith Wright, director of CHIP program services; Wanda J. Davis, deputy director of CHIP; Tara Freeman, director of the CHIP program operations division; Governor Ivey; Dr. Karen Landers, Chief Medical Officer; Stephanie McGee Azar, JD, commissioner, Alabama Medicaid Agency; Gretel Felton, director, beneficiary services, Alabama Medicaid Agency; and Catherine Molchan Donald, Public Health Administrator and Interim Director of CHIP.
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