Alabama will soon make more children dependent on politics for their health insurance, and perhaps devastate the private insurance market for everyone else in the process.

According to the Birmingham News, “All Kids” will be able to enroll about 14,000 more children starting October 1, thanks to looser eligibility requirements. Right now, the program is limited to families with an income of two times the federal poverty level. It will go up to three times, so the number for a family of four will be $66,156. By contrast, the median household income in the state is under $41,000.

An advocate of increased government dependency is happy: “Jim Carnes, communications director for Alabama Arise, said the expansion takes All Kids to income levels Alabama is not accustomed to serving in public programs, but Carnes said that is not a bad thing.” (Emphasis added.)

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A state official says the program — you’ve heard this before, haven’t you? — says it’s for people who make too much to qualify for Medicaid but too little to purchase insurance on their own.

Alabama gets a significant federal match — "most of the program is funded with federal dollars" — so it’s no surprise the state has signed on. It’s too bad, though, that the default government route to making insurance affordable is to subsidize it. For as Medicare, Dirigo and other programs demonstrate, subsidies are not financially sustainable and may in fact drive people out of the private market.

Cross-posted from State House Call.


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