Birmingham, Alabama, has announced an ambitious program to cover the city's 5,000 uninsured children through a mix of public-private partnerships blending public funding, philanthropy and an arrangement with a local children's hospital planning a major job-creating and revenue-producing expansion.
The plan isn't a comprehensive solution to all the health problems in the state—Alabama ranked 42 in CQ's 2008 Health Care State Rankings—but screening and covering young people is a sensible step.
Mayor Larry Langford said the city will put up $150,000, and the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama's Child Caring Foundation will match the funds. Eligible low-income children will be enrolled in Medicaid or the state's All Kids program; others will get care through the foundation, the Birmingham News reported.
"It's wrong that we allow these children to go unprotected. It's wrong that we make mothers and fathers worry every day about something as basic as health care,” Langford said.
The city worked out a deal with the Birmingham Children’s Hospital. The paper reported that the hospital could get up to $20 million from the city toward a $450 million expansion. The city will share some of the eventual tax revenue (anticipated from job creation and construction) with the hospital, and the hospital will do health screening and care for the city’s kids. The plan must be approved by the City Council.