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KidsCare Bill Gets Major Boost from State House Committee

A bill to restore Arizona's KidsCare health insurance program advanced this week in the state legislature. (Wikimedia Commons)
A bill to restore Arizona's KidsCare health insurance program advanced this week in the state legislature. (Wikimedia Commons)
February 11, 2016

PHOENIX - A bill to fully restore Arizona's KidsCare health insurance program cleared a major hurdle this week when it was approved unanimously by the state House Committee on Health.

During the recession, the program was scaled back because of its cost, but now Arizona is the only remaining state without a children's health program, and it has the highest rate of uninsured children in the country.

Testifying before the committee, Dana Wolfe Naimark, president and CEO of the Children's Action Alliance, said restoring KidsCare should be a top priority.

"Governor Ducey has challenged all of us, in his State of the State address and ever since then, to reach for a goal for opportunity for all children no matter what ZIP code they live in," says Naimark. "KidsCare is a proven Arizona home-grown strategy that does just that."

Naimark says restoring KidsCare would bring coverage to thousands of currently uninsured Arizona children, adding that the federal government would pick up 100 percent of the cost through at least 2017. She also pointed out studies show that children without access to health care do more poorly in school than others.

A doctor in the front lines of treating Arizona's children told the committee that kids without health care are often much sicker than they should be by the time she sees them. Dr. Elizabeth McKenna, a pediatrician in suburban Phoenix, says a lot of the working families she sees just can't afford the basic care their children need.

"When KidsCare II ended in 2014, many children of Arizona's working poor lost their health care coverage," says McKenna. "These are children of hard-working families who do not qualify for Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) but they can't afford private health care insurance premiums."

The measure, House Bill 2309, is now headed to the Appropriations Committee and then on to the full House.

Mark Richardson, Public News Service - AZ