Arizona Governor Doug Ducey will make sure money is available to keep our state’s Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), known as KidsCare, afloat….at least in the short term. KidsCare covers roughly 23,000 children in our state and unless additional federal funding is secured, the program will soon run out of money.
Arizona will ensure some 23,000 children from lower-income families don’t have to live without health insurance — at least for now — and the governor is officially asking Congress to make sure those kids stay covered.
Gov. Doug Ducey’s office said Wednesday that the state will shift money around in existing budgets to cover the costs of KidsCare. The state-run, federally funded program was expected to drain its existing budget later this month, potentially leaving all 23,000 children without care.
The new funding plan assumes Congress will renew funding for the popular program by early spring, said Christina Corieri, a senior adviser to the governor. That’s something Congress failed to do before the new federal budget year started Oct. 1.
According to KNAU Radio in Flagstaff, the Governor said “that he has ‘every confidence’ Congress will act. But he hinted the state’s $460 million rainy day fund would be one option to bridge a looming funding gap for Arizona’s version of the Children’s Health Insurance Program.”
As we await word on whether the feds will fund KidsCare, Arizona will have to come up with millions of dollars or face stripping coverage from 23,000 children. PinalCentral.com pointed out that in order to shift around state budget dollars to cover the program in the interim, the Governor will need legislative approval.
What’s formally known as the “budget stabilization fund” currently has about $460 million.
That would more than cover any interim costs. In September, the state got $6 million in federal funds in September on Kids Care.
But with increasing enrollment since the freeze was lifted, the governor’s office pegs the cost for October through December at $20 million.
The Daily Courier in Prescott added, “An aide to House Speaker J.D. Mesnard said his boss does not want to comment until he sees more details. There was no immediate response from Senate President Steve Yarbrough. (Governor) Ducey’s staff is exploring another option, one he may be able to do on its own. And its based on doing a bit of shifting of dollars — and children — among programs.”
We would love to hear your thoughts on the Governor’s plan and how we can ensure that the 23,000 low income children who are now receiving health coverage can continue to do so. Generating meaningful conversations around the health stories affecting the people of our state is another way we are working toward our long-term goal of one day making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!