"Each of us must come to care about everyone else's children. We must recognize that the well being of our own children is intimately linked to the well being of all other people's children. After all, when one of our children needs life-saving surgery, someone else's child will perform it. When one of our children is harmed by violence, someone else's child will commit it. The good life for our own children can be secured only if it is also secured for all other people's children. But to work for the well being of all children is not just a practical matter-- it is also right!"
- Lilian G. Katz, Phd.
Nearly 10,000 Parents Slated to Lose Coverage September 30
(Phoenix, AZ) Although Arizona is operating without an adopted, balanced budget in place for this fiscal year, state agencies are implementing dramatic budget cuts that endanger children and families throughout our state. Due to a failure of the legislature to appropriate funding for KidsCare Parents, nearly 10,000 working parents are scheduled to lose their health insurance on September 30, 2009.
“It is outrageous that our legislature would propose permanently cutting taxes on the one hand while simultaneously eliminating health insurance for nearly 10,000 working parents on the other hand,” said Dana Wolfe Naimark, President and CEO of Children’s Action Alliance (CAA). “When parents have health insurance, they are more likely to take their kids to the doctor for the checkups they need, and when parents can keep themselves healthy, they are better able to care for their children,” added Naimark. “Eliminating KidsCare Parents moves Arizona in the wrong direction.”
Parents began receiving notification in the past week that their insurance would end in just over a month. Many were shocked and uncertain where to turn. “I had not heard that KidsCare Parents was in jeopardy,” said Krista Long, a parent who receives health insurance through KidsCare Parents. “With KidsCare Parents, I don’t have to choose between my medication and food, like I used to,” she added. “When I received notification that my coverage was ending, my stomach hurt and I panicked. I don’t know what I will do without KidsCare Parents.”
In fact, there are few or no places for these parents to turn to find affordable health coverage. Most do not have coverage through their employers or the premiums are more than they can afford. Many have no options in the private market due to pre-existing health conditions.
The Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS), which administers KidsCare Parents, informed parents losing coverage they may wish to contact Community Health Centers, which don’t offer health insurance but provide primary health care services on a sliding fee scale. However, CHCs are also facing limited funding at a time of increased need.
“Arizona’s Community Health Centers provide quality primary and preventive health care for hundreds of thousands of Arizonans, regardless of whether they have health insurance,” said Tara McCollum Plese, Director of Government and Media Relations for the Arizona Association of Community Health Centers. “However, drastic cuts in state funding that allows CHCs to provide services to the uninsured on a sliding fee scale has created an increase in the number of uncompensated visits for our members,” added Plese. “The elimination of KidsCare Parents health insurance coverage for nearly 10,000 working parents will strain the Community Health Centers even further.”
As of August 1, 2009, 9,564 Arizona working parents with incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty level – or about $44,000 for a family of four – were enrolled in KidsCare Parents. Parents pay premiums up to $100 a month for their own coverage. Of the remaining funding, 76% comes from the federal government, with the state paying $60 to $70 per month per parent. Under current federal law, Arizona can continue receiving this strong level of federal support for KidsCare Parents through at least October 2011, although the matching rate may decline slightly after that.
“State lawmakers who voted for wiping out this parent coverage need to understand the real life consequences of their budget cuts,” Naimark concluded. “Families will suffer damage to their health, expensive emergency room visits will put more strain on hospitals, and many families will be forced to quit their jobs and spend down their savings so that they qualify for AHCCCS Medicaid coverage. At that point, parents will not pay any premiums, federal funding will go down, and the cost to the state budget will go up.”
Children’s Action Alliance is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to promoting the well-being of all of Arizona’s children and their families through research, policy development, media campaigns and advocacy. www.azchildren.org.
Health Care Resources for Arizona’s Low-Income and Uninsured Families
This resource manual provides information on Community Health Centers, medical discount programs, and discounted clinics throughout the state.
To contact any of the following parents receiving health insurance through KidsCare Parents, please contact Children’s Action Alliance:
Krista L., of the West Valley, is a single mother of two children who overcame homelessness and graduated from college. Krista has a chronic health condition, and works part time so she can be home in the afternoons with her son who has disabilities. She fears she may have to further drop her work hours so her income is low enough for her to qualify for Medicaid through AHCCCS.
Susan S. works full time for a company providing support to attorneys. She does not have insurance through her employer. Her son was born with a variety of life-threatening heart conditions that require monitoring and treatment. Susan also has health issues that require attention. Thanks to KidsCare coverage for them both, they have been able to stay active and Susan has been able to work to provide for her family.
Robyn G. works full time providing home care for her elderly aunt. Her husband loves working in construction. Neither have health coverage through their jobs. They live with their two teenage children; one has special medical needs. Thanks to KidsCare, their children have their own doctor. They have all gotten the treatment they need to stay healthy and stay out of the emergency room. Robyn doesn’t know what they will do without KidsCare coverage for her and her husband.