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AHCCCS reports it might have to eliminate KidsCare

Lawmakers this year eliminated a health care program for middle-class parents, but now the state-run health insurance program for children is on the chopping block.

The Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System has reported it would have to eliminate the KidsCare program if it is required to trim 15 percent of its budget in the 2010 fiscal year.

The program would save $9.9 million in general fund spending, though it receives nearly 80-percent of its money from the federal government as part of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, or SCHIP.

KidsCare provides health insurance coverage for children in families with income between 100- and 200-percent of the federal poverty level. For a family of four, that would be an annual income of between $22,000 and $44,000.

AHCCCS also said it would have to drastically decrease the amount of money the state gives to private hospitals that serve a disproportionate number of low-income patients to offset costs. The option would reduce those payments by 35 percent, saving the state’s general fund $3.1 million.

Last year, 41 hospitals received payments ranging from $5,000 to $4.4 million. Earlier this year, lawmakers considered reducing those payments, but opted against it because of the financial hardship it would have caused for many of those health care facilities, especially in rural areas of the state.

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