Arizona Reinstates Children’s Health Insurance Program After Six Years

Published June 17, 2016

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) signed a law reinstating KidsCare, the state’s Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which has been inactive since 2010, hours after Republicans joined Democrat state lawmakers in suspending the Senate rules in order to pass the legislation.

After Senate President Andy Biggs (R-Gilbert) blocked voting on KidsCare in March, a coalition of Democrat and Republican state senators voted to suspend the chamber’s rules in order to force a vote on the program, which is expected to restore health insurance to 30,000 children using a combination of federal and state dollars.

House lawmakers had approved KidsCare as part of House Bill 2309 on March 2, which the Senate blocked. On May 5, the House approved Senate Bill 1457, which the Senate passed by a 16–12 vote on May 6.

‘More of the Same’

Boaz Witbeck, a policy analyst for Americans for Prosperity–Arizona, says KidsCare increases Arizona’s dependence on an unreliable promise of federal assistance.

“Taxpayers are responsible for paying the bill either way, but Arizona cannot rely on federal government funding, considering the fragility of the economy of the recent Great Recession,” Witbeck said. “Arizona does not have the flexibility in its budget to afford the costs of a new CHIP program after the federal matching dollars are gone.”

Instead of seeking real solutions to rising health care costs, proponents of KidsCare are asking for more of the same, Witbeck says.

“As we have seen with Obamacare, government health care programs tend to drive up costs, which is one of the reasons why some are supporting the reinstatement of KidsCare,” Witbeck said. “However, more of the same government programs is not going to fix the underlying problems with health care.”

Real solutions for impoverished children must come from innovation at the state level, Witbeck says.

“The CHIP and Medicaid programs have a lot of strings attached on how Arizona can spend the money,” Witbeck said. “The federal government needs to allow states to come up with sustainable alternatives to CHIP that leverage private giving along with free-market economics to find better solutions for needy children in Arizona.”

Michael McGrady ([email protected]writes from Colorado Springs, Colorado.