Not all Arizona children have access to affordable health care in Arizona. The income level of some parents is above the threshold to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to afford private insurance on the marketplace. This financial purgatory leaves health care of children in limbo.
Thankfully, Children’s Health Insurance Program, or better known as KidsCare, is a program for Arizona children that provides parents the opportunity to maintain health care access for their children while they advance their careers and can get to a place where they can afford private
health care insurance. Without KidsCare, many parents would be faced with the decision to forego preventative care or reduce work hours so their income would drop to a level where they become Medicaid eligible.
KidsCare is an investment in all Arizona citizens. Health and wellness of all Arizona children is as integral to our society as is the mandate that we already accept of primary public education of all Arizona children. Similarly, we currently accept that educating every child in Arizona benefits society greater than the expenditure. KidsCare is no less important.
KidsCare has seen many changes over the years. Arizona froze enrollment in KidsCare back in 2010, but the governor and Legislature lifted the freeze in 2016. This policy change has had a profound effect on thousands of children. When the program was frozen in 2016, KidsCare enrollment hit an all time low of 528 members, but since lifting the freeze, 33,986 children now receive much needed health insurance. During the 2017 legislative session, the Legislature included a provision in the budget that requires KidsCare enrollment to be frozen if federal funding for the program drops below 100 percent. Federal funding is scheduled to drop to 90.5 percent on October 1, 2019.
Arizona must take a stand for the children who will be affected if enrollment is once again frozen. Freezing KidsCare again is not good health care policy. Experts agree that children enrolled in KidsCare miss fewer days of school, do not forgo preventative health care services and are less likely to use an emergency room for health care services.
The physician community strongly supports Arizona’s participation in KidsCare and hopes that the Legislature will take a strong stand for children by repealing the 2017 law and appropriate the necessary funds to continue to insure children.
Traci Pritchard is president of the Arizona Medical Association.