New State Budget Approved, KidsCare Denied

Arizona is just a signature away from a new state budget. But the 9.6 billion dollar spending plan does not include one of our state’s most hotly debated programs – KidsCare.

We have written a number of blogs on this topic over the past several months. The KidsCare program is designed to provide health insurance to low income children. Supporters claimed it would cover roughly 30,000 Arizona kids at no cost to the state, but opponents argued if the feds pulled their support down the road…it would leave Arizona holding the bill. In the end – KidsCare didn’t make the budget cut.

From the Arizona Republic:

Much of the day’s plodding debate centered on KidsCare, which had gathered strong support from Democrats and moderate Republicans last week but didn’t make it into the final budget deal.

The Senate’s Democratic leader, Katie Hobbs, decried the decision as “shameful,” saying, GOP leaders “are so devoted to ideology that they are willing to deny Arizona children their health just to prove a point.”

Senate President Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert, the most ardent opponent of the federally funded health plan, defended the decision to keep Arizona out of the program.

“On the surface, emotionally, this looks like an absolute no-brainer,” Biggs said during floor debate Tuesday night. “I’ve heard four times, from four different speakers, that this costs us nothing. But no government program is free, now or forever. Someone must pay for it.”

According to a story in the Arizona Daily Sun, Rep. Regina Cobb, R-Kingman, was quoted as saying the plan fell victim to simple politics: Adding KidsCare to the budget package would have doomed the entire plan, including things she wanted like K-12 funding and more money for road repair and construction.

“And I was not willing to give up all of the other things for this one issue,” she said.

Rep. Noel Campbell, R-Prescott, echoed her concerns. Campbell said restoring care for the children is important. “But it would explode the budget agreement we made,” he said.

Let us know what you think about the decision to leave KidsCare out of the the final state budget. Does it matter that Arizona is the only state without a Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in the country? Are there other solutions to this challenging problem? We may not always agree, but finding common ground as we work through these types of issues is key to our long-term goal of making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!


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