Apple Health, the state's health insurance program for kids, is poised to bring in $80 million in federal money over the next two years, according to recent estimates.
The Children’s Alliance reported Monday, and the Social and Health Services Department confirmed, that Apple Health should get the federal dollars through the 2009 Children’s Health Insurance Reauthorization Act, and, some argued, that was a good reason to maintain state funding to the program.
“Our message is that there’s more than enough money to keep funding Apple Health for every eligible child,” said Jon Gould, Deputy Director for the Children’s alliance. “Money that’s earned from our success in children’s health should be reinvested back into children’s health.”
Under the governor’s budget, the state would cut funding for about 27,000 undocumented children in the program, which would save about $59 million.
According to Children’s Alliance figures, her budget only took into consideration about $15.8 million in federal bonus funding, however.
Gould said the children that the governor’s budget cuts from the program would not bring in federal money anyway, because of their immigration status, but the message he hoped state legislators took away from the report was that funding for Apple Health was not as limited as the governor’s budget predicted.
The Children’s Alliance projections are based on the state caseload forecasts that came out earlier this month, and the money for the bonuses has already been appropriated by Congress through 2013. In the 2009-11 biennium, Washington got about $25 million in federal funding because of the program.
Jim Stevenson, a spokesman for the Department of Social and Health Services, said his agency had verified the figures from the Children’s Alliance.
In general, he said, paying for health insurance for kids is a good deal because children's health care is relatively cheap.
According to the Office of Financial Management, the new estimates have been forwarded on to state legislators to incorporate into the biennial budget.
“Washington has a reputation as a state that is really committed to kids’ health insurance, but then again, we’ve never had a budget crisis like this either,” Stevenson said. “Legislators will have some difficult decisions.”