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Child Advocates: Governor's AZ Child Health Day Proclamation 'Ironic'

October 5, 2010

Phoenix, AZ - Children's advocates say it's ironic that Governor Brewer declared Monday as AZ Child Health Day when enrollment is frozen in the state's KidsCare health insurance program. Legislative leaders and the Governor are scrambling to close a budget hole estimated at more than $2-billion. Comments from Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, Protecting Arizona's Family Coalition coordinator Tim Schmaltz and Children's Action Alliance president Dana Naimark (NAY-mark).

PHOENIX - Arizona Governor Jan Brewer declared Monday to be Arizona Child Health Day, emphasizing preventive care in her proclamation.

"It's a day devoted to the health and well-being of our children, and will highlight the needs of Arizona's children and the power of promoting a lifelong pattern of healthy lifestyle."

But advocates call the Governor's proclamation ironic, since she and lawmakers froze enrollment in the state's health insurance program for children of working families. Coordinator Tim Schmaltz of the Protecting Arizona's Families Coalition says children's health insurance should be off the budget-cutting table.

"If we have to raise taxes, we should raise taxes to protect the most vulnerable, particularly children."

The state faces an estimated deficit of more than $2 billion over the next 21 months.

Schmaltz says the Governor has ignored numerous possible revenue sources, such as taxing spa treatments or country club memberships.

"There are alternatives that she could use that would not attack children and children's health."

Children's Action Alliance president Dana Naimark says the state's KidsCare enrollment freeze means that more than 100 kids a day are being denied health insurance coverage.

"Why should Arizona kids be behind every other state in the country, because we're the only ones turning kids away? It's not right and we ask her to fix it."

The state froze enrollments in KidsCare at the end of 2009. Naimark says more than 70,000 children have since been denied coverage.

Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ