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Number of Insured Children in Arizona Hits New High

About 7.3 percent of Arizona's children, or 119,000 kids, lack health insurance. (Children's Action Alliance)
About 7.3 percent of Arizona's children, or 119,000 kids, lack health insurance. (Children's Action Alliance)
September 26, 2017

PHOENIX – A new report from Georgetown University shows that 15,000 kids in Arizona gained health insurance in 2016 - leaving 119,000 still uninsured. That's an 11-percent drop from last year - the fourth largest drop in the nation.

Researchers from the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families say that the percentage of kids who now have health insurance in Arizona and in the U.S. as a whole is at a historic high, and they largely credit the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

Siman Qaasim, director of health policy at the Children's Action Alliance, says Arizona should be proud of the progress and determined to make even more.

"We still have 7.3 percent uninsured children in Arizona," she says. "And that's not good enough, and it's still above the national average. So we still have a lot of room to grow and to get better, and certainly, we don't want to be going backwards."

This week the Senate is expected to vote on the Graham-Cassidy Act - the latest GOP effort to repeal Obamacare and replace it with a system that gives capped block grants to states - a move supporters say will cut costs, but opponents say will force states to limit benefits or deny coverage to many Arizonans.

Joan Alker, author of the report and executive director of the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families, says having health insurance is a huge lifelong benefit to children and society.

"We know that having coverage is important for children because research shows that these children have better access to needed health services, better educational outcomes and even better economic and health outcomes as adults," she explains.

Alker says she's also disappointed that Congress has so far failed to renew funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program, known as KidsCare in Arizona. That funding expires Saturday.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - AZ