Arizonans urge lawmakers and governor to reinstate KidsCare

KidsCare, Arizona’s Children’s Health Insurance Program, has been frozen since January 1, 2010. Monday, supporters gathered at the Capitol to rally together and urge lawmakers and Gov. Doug Ducey to lift the freeze.

Michelle Wolfson, a mother of three, is looking for help. Her 15-year-old daughter Alisa suffers from Friedreich’s ataxia, which has left her wheelchair bound.

“We had a bit of a shock on April first to find out our youngest daughter is no longer covered under AHCCCS,” Wolfson said.

No longer eligible for Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS), the Wolfson’s have been forced to add their youngest daughter to her husband’s medical insurance, leaving a large financial strain on the family.

“The things that we’ve had to give up, have been everything. We don’t go anywhere, we don’t do anything, we don’t take road trips, we don’t take day trips,” Wolfson said.

KidsCare, which is designed for low-income families, would make all the difference for her family, according to Wolfson.

“KidsCare would have been the easiest solution that would have resulted in her not having an interruption to any of her medical care or her behavioral health services that she receives,” said Wolfson.

Dana Wolfe Naimark, President and CEO of Children’s Action Alliance, spoke at the rally Monday.

“This impacts children who live in working families who earn just a little too much to qualify for AHCCCS, but really can’t afford other health care plans. So they are going without check ups, they are not going to the doctor when they get sick they are waiting until problems grow and grow and then showing up in an emergency room,” Naimark said.

According to Children’s Action Alliance, Arizona is the only state in the country that doesn’t have a children’s health insurance plan. KidsCare could help about 30,000 children get health insurance, the Alliance has said. At the press conference, they also explained that lifting the freeze would have no cost to the state budget because Arizona is eligible for 100% federal funding.

House Bill 2309, which would reinstate the KidsCare program, passed through the Arizona House Health Committee and passed the House on March 2, but has stalled since.

“Actually, it was very broad support. It passed with a vote of 47-12 in the house. It never got to move to the Senate because one man blocked it. So now we are asking all of the representatives and senators, use your vote to lift the freeze on KidsCare. Don’t let one man stand in the way,” said Naimark.

Andy Biggs, the Arizona Senate president, does not support KidsCare.

In an interview with Ted Simons on Arizona Horizon on Arizona PBS he explained his position.

“Supposedly many of these kids should have been taken care of under Obamacare, but they are not because Obamacare has been another failure and then some of these children may be eligible under normal AHCCCS or medicaid,” said Biggs.

Supporters hope their message will be heard and that children from low-income families will once again be able to receive KidsCare health insurance.

“It will help those children come to school healthy, be able to learn and succeed and grow up to accomplish whatever they want to accomplish,” said Naimark.