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Report: Arizona Insures 30% More Kids, Still 47th in Nation

Arizona cut the number of uninsured children by 30 percent between 2013 and 2015, according to a new report by Georgetown University. (Children's Action Alliance)
Arizona cut the number of uninsured children by 30 percent between 2013 and 2015, according to a new report by Georgetown University. (Children's Action Alliance)
October 27, 2016

PHOENIX -- Arizona cut the number of uninsured kids by 30 percent between 2013 and 2015, according to a new report by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families.

The nation as a whole posted a record - with less than five percent of all children remaining uninsured. Researchers credited the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act for insuring more adults, who then signed their kids up as well. Joan Alker, executive director at the Georgetown center and co-author of the report, said polls show most Americans are not aware of the success of these programs.

"About half of Americans thought the number of uninsured children was actually increasing. Only 28 percent were aware that the number has actually gone down,” Alker said. "So this is a success that we've had as a country, it's not well known and it's something we can all feel good about."

Arizona still has some work to do, however. Here, 8.3 percent of children are without health insurance - which is the third highest rate in the country. Until last month, Arizona was the only state in the nation that didn't allow families to enroll in the Children's Health Insurance Program, which is known as KidsCare in the Grand Canyon State.

The Legislature froze KidsCare in 2010, citing budget constraints, but reinstated it as of September first, according to Siman Quaasim, director of health policy at the Children's Action Alliance. She added that many parents don't realize that their kids are eligible.

"The remaining uninsured children in the nation, only five percent of them are because they're undocumented,” Quaasim said. "The majority of the kids who are uninsured are actually in the KidsCare bracket, and are eligible for insurance."

KidsCare provides insurance for families that make a little too much to qualify for the Arizona Healthcare Cost Containment System, also known as Access. KidsCare covers children whose parents make between 133 and 200 percent of the federal poverty level. For help applying for the program, visit CoverAZ.org.


Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - AZ