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KidsCare Program Extension Advances in AZ Legislature

More than 30,000 uninsured Arizona children could gain coverage if the Legislature restores the KidsCare health insurance program. (Pixabay)
More than 30,000 uninsured Arizona children could gain coverage if the Legislature restores the KidsCare health insurance program. (Pixabay)
March 4, 2016

PHOENIX - A bill to lift the freeze on the KidsCare health-insurance program has been approved by a wide margin in the Arizona House of Representatives and is headed to the state Senate.

Restoring KidsCare would provide coverage for thousands of uninsured Arizona children, with the federal government picking up the cost, at least through 2017. Joe Fu, director of health policy for the Children's Action Alliance, said the push to restore KidsCare is gaining momentum.

"The KidsCare program aligns with a lot of priorities of a lot of legislators and the governor himself," he said. "I think that lends a lot of momentum to the KidsCare piece as a major priority for this session."

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

Fu said statistics like that have gotten the attention of state leaders, and are motivating lawmakers to approve the measure, House Bill 2309.

"We see tons of sectors coming out in support of KidsCare - the faith community, the business community - in addition to your traditional groups, such as health-care leaders and child advocates," he said. "So, I think there is tremendous pressure and support for the program."

Fu said studies show that children without access to health care do poorly in school compared with others. If approved, the bill would extend low-cost health insurance to more than 30,000 uninsured kids in Arizona.

Details of HB 2309 are online at azleg.gov.

Mark Richardson, Public News Service - AZ