Buchanan Fighting for Children’s Health Care
Nearly 7,000 Kids in Sarasota, Manatee Counties Affected
WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan said today he will urge congressional leaders to extend funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program to make sure that thousands of low-income kids in his district do not lose coverage.
Funding for the program, known in Florida as KidCare, is set to expire on Sept. 30. Nine million children are enrolled nationwide, with 375,000 in Florida.
“This important program provides peace of mind to families that if their children get sick they will get the medical attention they need,” Buchanan said. “I grew up in a blue-collar home with five brothers and sisters so I understand how important that is.”
Buchanan, a longtime supporter of CHIP, was one of 44 Republicans in 2007 to vote to override then-President George W. Bush’s veto of a bill extending the program.
In Sarasota County, 3,584 children are enrolled in the program with 3,093 in Manatee County and 13,590 in Hillsborough County.
Before Hurricane Irma hit, Florida’s allocation of CHIP funding was projected to run out in January. However, experts now predict that Florida’s funding will run out more quickly because children will likely need more medical care after Irma’s destruction, and the changed circumstances could lead to newly eligible children enrolling.
According to Joan Alker, executive director of Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families, “there’s no question that the hurricanes are going to make them [the states] run through their allotments quicker.”
Income eligibility levels for CHIP vary widely among states, though most set thresholds at or below 200 percent of the poverty level — about $49,000 for a family of four. Unlike Medicaid, CHIP is usually not free to participants. Florida families pay an an average premium of about $200 a year.