Editorial: KidsCare lives — but not without a fight

Governor Doug Ducey signed the bill Friday that will give new life to the KidsCare health care program.

“He has always been open-minded to it,’’ said press aide Daniel Scarpinato. “It’s common sense and it will help kids.’’

Good news for our children. But, of course, the right thing couldn’t be done without a fuss in Phoenix.

Republican leaders didn’t want the program restored. This led to “rank and file Republicans joining with Democrats to line up the votes and find procedural ways to bypass the blockades thrown in their path” on Thursday, according to a Capitol Media Services report. “Senate President Andy Biggs refused to even give a hearing to a House-passed bill to reinstate the program. On Friday, Biggs opted to simply allow a vote. But he was clearly displeased about being outmaneuvered. The Senate president said he wasn’t buying arguments that there would be no cost to the state. But he said even if that were not the case, Arizona shouldn’t be lining up for the federal dollars.”

KidsCare is funded on a 2-1 financial match with federal and state money, but the state handles it.

Arizona started offering the program in 2001, but in 2010 the lawmakers cut enrollment because they felt the state could no longer match the federal funds.

KidsCare became a viable option for Arizona again when Congress announced they would fully fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program through 2017.

This gives Arizona’s underprivileged children a chance to get medical care.

And, again, it is never that simple when legislators have agendas.

Even with Ducey’s signature, there will be hurdles. Senate Majority Leader Steve Yabrough, R-Chandler, said he anticipates a lawsuit, saying SB 1457 is illegal, reports Capitol Media Services.

“That’s because the provision to restore KidsCare was attached to language dealing with eligibility of disabled students to continue to get vouchers to attend private and parochial school at taxpayer expense. Yarbrough said that violates a provision of the Arizona Constitution that says legislation can deal with only one subject.

But Rep. Kate Brophy McGee, R-Phoenix, one of the architects, said there is a connection between the two subjects and that the legislation will survive any legal challenge.”

Why can’t bills that help our most vulnerable citizens stand on their own? These types of legislative maneuvering are frustrating.

Let’s just be happy for now that Republicans crossed the aisle to join Democrats to give this critical program another chance.