Tucson, Ariz.– A new state-by-state scorecard released today by the Commonwealth Fund ranks Arizona 49th in the quality of children’s health care nationwide. The State Scorecard on Child Health System Performance evaluates how each state’s health care system is working for children based on several key indicators, including access and affordability, prevention and treatment, and the potential to lead healthy lives.
The report finds strong evidence for the value of federal and state policies aimed at improving health coverage and quality of care. It cites state-level expansions of the federal Medicaid program, funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and the federal expansion and reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) as essential tools for providing children with quality health care.
Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva highlighted Arizona’s November 2009 decision to freeze enrollment in KidsCare, the state CHIPeffort that provides health insurance to children in families that earn up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level, as a leading reason for what he called “an unacceptable failure to help and protect our children. There is an undeniable link between the dismantling of KidsCare and our state’s dismal ranking.”
Governor Jan Brewer’s own budget finds that eliminating KidsCare entirely, as she proposes to do, would cost health care providers much more than the state would save as a result. As her fiscal year 2011 budget summary states: “In November 2009 (the last month before the enrollment freeze went into effect), the KidsCare program served 46,800 children. Because the federal government matches State funding at a 3:1 rate, Arizona health care providers will lose $119.4 million, while the General Fund will benefit by $22.9 million.”
The Arizona Joint Legislative Budget Committee estimates that if current state policies continue, there will be no KidsCare enrollees by 2015. This will cost the state untold amounts of money in the long run, as the governor’s Office of Strategic Budget and Planning noted in its draft FY2010 budget reductions summary, citing the federal Institute of Medicine: “[U]ninsured children are more likely to be hospitalized for preventable conditions and for missed diagnoses of serious or life threatening conditions. These avoidable costs are shifted to hospitals and providers as uncompensated care, and to the public as a hidden tax through increased premiums.”
Grijalva pointed out that the Affordable Care Act, which he supported, has already brought more funding to community health centers statewide and has outlawed the denial of coverage to children with pre-existing conditions. Efforts to repeal the bill “would devastate our already broken state health care system,” Grijalva said. “We need state leaders to get serious about building a health care system to be proud of, not firing nurses and closing hospital doors.”
This and all other press releases from Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva are available at http://grijalva.house.gov/news