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Children's Advocates See Build Back Better Act Improving AZ Kids' Health

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Tuesday, November 30, 2021   

PHOENIX -- Health advocates in Arizona and across the country are pressing the U.S. Senate to approve the Build Back Better Act, because it would improve Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which is called KidsCare in Arizona.

The bill already has passed in the House. It would offer 12 months of continuous coverage to children who qualify for Medicaid.

Joan Alker, executive director of the Center for Children and Families, co-authored a new brief, which showed during the early Trump years, one in ten children experienced a gap in coverage over the course of 12 months.

"After we saw this troubling reverse in the progress we'd made as a country in reducing the number of uninsured kids -- which came to a halt in 2017 and started going in the wrong direction -- the Build Back Better bill would really turn that around and start moving the country in the right direction," Alker contended.

According to the Children's Action Alliance, kids and families of four earning $53,000 a year or less are eligible for affordable health coverage through CHIP. Opponents of the Build Back Better Act say the $2 trillion program is too costly.

Alker pointed out families in states such as Arizona often face significant hurdles in getting their children registered and keeping them in the KidsCare program.

"These gaps in coverage were more common in Latino children and Black children, and 50% of children who had a gap in coverage did not see a doctor for the entire year that we looked at," Alker reported.

Alker noted Build Back Better would permanently fund CHIP, so it would not have to be renewed every few years. It also makes it easier for Arizona and other states to expand KidsCare eligibility.

"This will provide an opportunity for stability in the CHIP program, to allow states to try to get to the finish line here and get all kids covered," Alker asserted.

Advocates say Arizona, where in 2019 more than 9% of eligible children were not registered for CHIP, would benefit greatly from the changes planned under the Build Back Better Act.

Disclosure: Georgetown University Center for Children & Families contributes to our fund for reporting on Children's Issues, and Health Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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