Here’s the number of kids in recent months enrolling in NC Health Choice, NC’s state/federal affordable children’s health insurance program for kids of working parents:
In just the last four months, 3,334 kids have been able to get affordable health coverage through Health Choice. The federal government – as with all kids in Health Choice – picks up 75% of the cost of this new insurance. Unfortunately, with the budget unveiled today in the NC House, this enrollment is going to come to a screeching halt and it’s likely children would actually have to be dropped from health coverage. Why? The House puts in only $3.25 million in additional money to fund Health Choice. This isn’t even enough to serve the current children because increasing medical costs (the same is true in the private sector) eat up more than that $3.25 million increase.
Consider than even under overly optimistic assumptions from the NC Senate, the program was supposed to be kept open with only $6.5 million that would enroll 2,750 kids. This obviously isn’t enough to keep the program open in 2010-11 if over 3,000 kids have already enrolled in the last three months alone. Now the House cuts that additional funding in half – which is even less workable.
Only Governor Perdue seems to have a realistic assessment of what it takes to keep giving struggling NC families the option of affordable child health insurance over the next year. She included $8.5 million in expansion funding to cover at least 8,000 more kids. The House and Senate should look to the Governor’s recommendations for the way to go.