There’s still a long way to go, but state legislators took a huge first step toward saving KidsCare in Arizona late last week. The House Health Committee unanimously voted to pass HB2127, sponsored by Rep. Regina Cobb (R-Kingman), which would prevent a funding freeze ‘if’ the federal government fails to pony up money for the program. KidsCare provides health care for thousands of low income children in our state.
State lawmakers took the first steps Thursday to preserving a health-care program for children of the working poor if Congress scales back federal funding.
House Bill 2127 would repeal a provision of a 2016 state law that restored the KidsCare program but only if the feds pick up the entire cost.
Instead, it would require the head of the state’s Medicaid program to inform the Legislature of any shortfall and give lawmakers the option of keeping the program in place with state dollars.
According to KJZZ.org, “While there are indications Congress will come through with full funding, a trigger in Arizona law, would shut down new enrollment starting in 2020 if fed funding drops below 100 percent.” “So what this bill does is say, ‘We’re not going to let the feds decide if and when we freeze KidsCare. We’re going to make the decision here based on your appropriation process,” said Dana Naimark with the president of the Children’s Action Alliance.”
The Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association (AzHHA) applauds this decision and the bi-partisan support it received in the House Health Committee. The following representatives all voted in favor of the bill.
- Rep. Regina Cobb [R]
- Rep. Heather Carter [R]
- Rep. Kelli Butler [D]
- Rep. Jay Lawrence [R]
- Rep. Otoniel Navarrete [D]
- Rep. Pamela Hannley [D]
- Rep. Tony Rivero [R]
- Rep. Michelle Udall [R]
The Tucson Sentinel quoted Rep. Heather Carter (R-Cave Creek) as saying, “It just allows us to make the decision. Maybe they will figure it out in the next 24 to 48 hours. You can’t really predict what the federal government will or will not do.”
Member hospitals also weighed in on the vote to preserve KidsCare.
“Essential public safety net systems like Maricopa Integrated Health System depend on programs like KidsCare to provide services for low-income working families and their children. Without an extension of KidsCare, families in our community will face one more hurdle in trying to access health care for their children.” Steve Purves, President and CEO of Maricopa Integrated Health System (MIHS)
“Without KidsCare, we are endangering ourselves. Just Imagine the flu epidemic without KidsCare! We not only have the responsibility to help our children, but also to keep our residents safe and healthy.” Ainslee Wittig, Northern Cochise Community Hospital
The bill now goes to the Rules Committee before moving to the full House for a vote. We’d love to hear your thoughts about the vote and what KidsCare means to so many families in Arizona. Generating meaningful dialogue around the health issues 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!