PeachCare, which insures low to medium income families, could run out of federal funds as soon as January, according to Georgia Health News.
Georgia parents like Wande Okunoren-Meadows said they’re worried about what they’ll do if their kids lose health insurance. She has three kids ages 8 to 13. With a family income of about $62,000 dollars, she said it would be tough if PeachCare were no longer an option.
“We’re just going to have to stock up on lots of herbal remedies and go back to nature, but if they break their arm then we’re going to emergency room, and I’ll deal with the bills later,” Okunoren-Meadows said.
Erica Fener-Sitkoff, a clinical psychologist and executive director of the nonprofit child policy advocacy group Voices for Georgia’s Children said it’s a bad time for medical care funds to run out.
“It could have a significant impact on their ability to be in school every day, particularly as we run into flu season,” Sitkoff said.
Georgia Health News reports PeachCare currently covers medical costs for more than 130,000 Georgia children.
“Here in Georgia, health challenges is a leading reason why children aren’t in school: Asthma, oral health are the top two,” Sitkoff said. “PeachCare provides that care for those children. If they lose their healthcare, they’re not able to go to their well visits, receive their maintenance of care. They’re going to be forced to go to emergency rooms for a typical cold.”
Because Georgia is a high-poverty state, the federal government fully covers the PeachCare program, providing more than $400 million in funding annually.
PeachCare is Georgia’s version of the federal Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP.
“We know that health of children really impacts their health as they grow older so any lapse in coverage could have long-term impacts,” said Laura Colbert, executive director at the nonprofit health advocacy group Georgians for a Healthy Future. “In other states, we’ve seen that if they’ve had to dis-enroll children even temporarily from CHIP program, it’s really hard to get those families re-enrolled and those kids re-covered. So any discontinuation of the program even if it two months or six months later, it can be very significant for the health of children in Georgia.”