TUCSON – Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) reacted today to news that funding for KidsCare, a program that provides health insurance to low-income Arizona children, is not included in the state’s budget. Enrollment was frozen in 2010, leading a once fully functional program that served 46,000 kids to now provide care to less than 1,000. While the State House voted 47-12 earlier this year to reinstate the program, State Senate President Andy Biggs refused to bring it up for a vote. The last-ditch effort to save the program by including it in the state budget was voted down by Republicans along party lines.
“The first rule for any public servant, Republican or Democrat, is to do no harm to the people who entrust you with elected office,” Rep. Grijalva said. “As a result of freezing KidsCare, Arizona ranks 49th in the nation for its rate of uninsured children, and the rate of uninsurance among the former KidsCare income eligibility range is a striking 16.5 percent.”
Grijalva has been a vocal advocate for reinstate KidsCare since it was frozen in 2010. Recently, he provided written confirmation from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to state Senate President Andy Biggs that KidsCare would be fully funded by the federal government for the next two years. Grijalva provided the information after Senator Biggs advanced a widely discredited misconception that reinstating the program would entail hidden costs for the state in the coming year.
“This is not a partisan issue, yet leadership in state legislature blatantly ignored bipartisan pleading to help our kids. Ultimately, a program that children depend on for basic health care was stopped by political deceit. This is a new low, and I am appalled to see state lawmakers ignore the benefits of bringing federal funding to the state.”
Arizona is the only state in the nation without an active Children’s Health Insurance Program. A recent Grand Canyon Institute report demonstrated that in addition to long term health benefits for children, ending the freeze on enrollment would create economic benefits of approximately $75 million in Arizona in FY2017 alone.