Advocates say it’s needed. Opponents fear Arizona could get stuck with the bill. Meanwhile, the uninsured children in our state are caught in the middle.
As we pointed out in a blog a few weeks ago, a recent report said one factor behind Arizona’s relatively high rate of uninsured hispanic children may be its 2010 decision to freeze enrollment in KidsCare, the state’s children’s health insurance program, or CHIP. Arizona is the only state without an active CHIP program.
“(Arizona Rep. Regina) Cobb and officials with Children’s Action Alliance said that restoring KidsCare would not cost the state money because Arizona is one of nine states eligible for 100 percent federal funding for the program beginning this fiscal year. The Arizona Legislature must pass legislation and Gov. Doug Ducey would need to sign a bill to direct the state’s Medicaid program to seek the federal funding.”
Others claim that saying the feds will pick up 100 percent of the cost is only part of the story. In a recent Arizona Republic opinion piece, Robert Robb wrote:
“According to proponents, the federal government will pick up 100 percent of the cost for two years. If the state has to start paying after that, the program can be dropped again.
Good grief. If the state actually did that, the very people making that argument would scream bloody murder, denouncing lawmakers as heartless ogres who hate children.”
We believe the time has come to restore the KidsCare program. But we also understand the concerns of those who are worried about longer term funding. To that end, we also believe policymakers and stakeholders need to hammer out a long term approach to figure out how to pay for the state share – if the federal government stops footing the bill.
What do you think? Should we restore KidsCare in our state? What about the money concerns? Share your thoughts and let us know why you think we should or shouldn’t reestablish the program. Engaging in these tough conversations is critical if we hope to one day reach our goal of making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!