Thursday, July 24 2014 11:14 PM EDT2014-07-25 03:14:49 GMT
Lee County residents voiced their displeasure with a potential property tax hike Thursday evening.More >>
Lee County residents voiced their displeasure with a potential property tax hike Thursday evening. More >>
March 12, 2007
Albany -- Over a quarter-million Georgia children, 276,000, are enrolled in PeachCare, Georgia's healthcare program for kids. That number has consistently been climbing since the program was started for children in lower income families.
But not anymore. New enrollees will no longer be accepted in the program. That's because money is running out, and if the government doesn't act soon, all children on the program could lose their healthcare coverage.
Healthcare is expensive, period. But imagine raising a family on a low income. Paying for healthcare coverage was almost impossible-- until PeachCare.
Children under five who are enrolled are covered for free, and there's a cap of $70 a month for two or more kids per house. There are no co-payments, no deductibles, and now, no new enrollees.
"Now that it's a reality I think it's a much more serious situation," says Phoebe's Dr. Frank Middleton.
Officials with the Department of Community Health were hoping that the federal government would step in and cover a $131 Million shortfall, but they haven't and by March 31st, the funds will run out.
"We'll have less of the early detection and early preventive measures that are normally accessed in pediatrician offices and family medical doctor's offices and we'll have late arrivals of children with advanced illnesses," Middleton said.
Some of them grave, because parents are afraid to take their kids to the doctor early on, in fear of high medical bills.
"Something has to happen and hopefully this will not fall on a deaf ear at our state capital or the federal level and we will ultimately get funding, we hope."
But until then, Georgia's kids are the ones at risk. And that's one group we can't afford to let down. The enrollment freeze also applies to children whose coverage is canceled for any reason, like a late payment.
The state legislature is on a two week break, hoping that in the meantime Congress will step up and solve the funding problem. If they don't, PeachCare will be out of money by March 31st. Parents of current enrollees will then receive a 30-day notice, required by law, that the healthcare coverage is about to run out.
The PeachCare program will then operate in the red for 30 days while those parents try to find adequate coverage for their kids.