KidsCare Funding For Children Of Arizona's Working Poor In Jeopardy

Published: Monday, October 2, 2017 - 10:09am
Updated: Monday, October 2, 2017 - 4:22pm

Tens of thousands of youngsters in Arizona are in jeopardy of losing health care after Congress allowed the $15 billion federal Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to lapse. CHIP is the national program that funds Arizona’s local KIDS CARE.

Since CHIP was enacted in 1997, it has grown to provide healthcare for about 9 million children in working poor families nationwide.

Arizona first joined in 2001 after then Gov. Jane Hull saw the advantage of the federal government offering to match every one local dollar with three federal dollars. Through KidsCare, it now helps 22,389 children.

Heidi Capriotti with the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, which manages the KidsCare dollars, watched closely as the program appeared to be overshadowed in Congress by the universal health care crisis.

“I think they kind of got derailed by Graham-Cassidy this week,” Capriotti said.

In the interim, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid reportedly have enough unspent dollars from the fiscal year just ending to hold KidsCare through this month and into November, she said.

Congress will have to move swift to reinstate the funding.  Right now, there is broad bipartisan support for the program. But, dysfunction in Congress could ensnare funding approval.

“But we expect that they will take action on this before we get to the point where we're exhausting the funding,” Capriotti said.

If the federal CHIP dollars are not reinstated, Capriotti said AHCCCS is looking at potential program changes that could end, freeze or reorganize it.

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