CHIP serves about 120,000 kids here in Arkansas. But the funding passed goes beyond just CHIP. According to Community Healthcare it’s also impacting thousands of patients of all ages in Washington and Benton Counties.
CEO Community Health Care Systems Kathy Grisham says, “There are 36,000 people that depend on us to be here for their healthcare.”
Grisham says the national budget could have cost jobs in Northwest Arkansas. She says, “The federal money is about 18-percent of our budget.” If the budget would not have passed, Grisham says, “We would be looking at how to make up that loss of funding one way or another because, yes you can’t go into the red forever.” She says jobs could have been the price to pay for the funding loss. Grisham says, “We don’t have to turn anyone away, or lose any of our valuable employees.”
Laura Kellams with Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families says funding the Children’s Health Insurance Program, known as CHIP, is actually saving money long term. She says, “AR Kids First and the Children’s Health Insurance Program is really an official program. It’s actually a less expensive alternative for children’s coverage than what we would have had as an option over that next four year period.”
With 10-years of funding locked in, Kellams is breathing a sigh of relief. She says, “These are the children of hardworking families in Arkansas and they’re working to keep our economy going, but they don’t happen to make enough money to be able to afford health insurance, and so that’s what CHIP is all about.”
According to reports from the Congressional Budget Office, extending CHIP is actually expected to save the government six-billion-dollars over the next 10-years.