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Report: Arizona Ranks Near Bottom for Kids' Health Insurance

A new report from the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute says Arizona has one of the lowest rates of children with health insurance in the country. (Wikimedia Commons)
A new report from the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute says Arizona has one of the lowest rates of children with health insurance in the country. (Wikimedia Commons)
January 8, 2016

PHOENIX - Arizona has one of the highest rates of uninsured children in the country, but a new report indicates optimism that the situation could soon change.

According to the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute, Arizona is the only state in the country that does not have a Children's Health Insurance Program, or "CHIP," in place. Joan Alker, director of the Georgetown Center for Children and Families, said it is a problem that needs attention.

"From my national perspective, Arizona is a real outlier. Arizona is the only state in the country without a functioning children's health-insurance program," she said. "The fact that Arizona is not participating, when the federal government would pay 100 percent of the cost, I think is pretty shocking."

The report said Arizona ranks 49th among the states in terms of children with health insurance, with 10 percent of eligible kids lacking coverage - compared with a national average of just 6 percent. Arizona suspended its CHIP program, called KidsCare, in 2010 during the recession, but it could be restored as part of the next state budget.

Report co-author Joe Fu, director of health policy for the Children's Action Alliance, said restoring the program could reap both short-term and long-term benefits for Arizona.

"Kids who are healthier perform better. There's scientific evidence of that, and also let's not overlook the impact this has on long-term influence on the state's economy."

Fu said he believes both the governor and key members of the Arizona Legislature are willing to work toward restoring the KidsCare program in the upcoming session that convenes next week.

The report is online at ccf.georgetown.edu.

Mark Richardson, Public News Service - AZ