Editorial: State steps in to keep KidsCare afloat

Gov. Doug Ducey came up with contingency plans to keep funding KidsCare even after the federal money is gone. (Ross D. Franklin/AP File)

Gov. Doug Ducey came up with contingency plans to keep funding KidsCare even after the federal money is gone. (Ross D. Franklin/AP File)

At first, there was no panic when Congress let the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) lapse at the end of September.

Yes, this is a vital federal program that allows 9 million American children access to affordable health care.

But, there was no need to worry. Most states had enough funds to last through 2017, with Arizona projected to be one of the first to run out of money sometime in December.

Congress would certainly get its act together and extend this very popular program that has bipartisan support.

We are about to enter December and extending CHIP isn’t on the radar of our representatives in Washington, D.C.

KidsCare, which is the Arizona program funded by CHIP, will run out of approved funds soon and our representatives and senators will be going home for their holiday break. We urge all Arizonans to contact their representatives in Washington and urge them to extend this program before they leave Washington.

KidsCare is designed for children in families that earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to afford a regular health care plan on the open market.

To qualify, a family of four must have a household annual income of less than $50,000. It costs the federal government $13.6 billion in 2016 and provided routine checkups, immunizations, doctor visits, prescriptions, dental and vision, inpatient and outpatient hospital care, laboratory and X-ray services and emergency services.

That for a cost no more than $50 per month for one child, or $70 for more than one.

We all owe Gov. Doug Ducey thanks for coming up with contingency plans to keep funding KidsCare even after the federal money is gone. They have other federal funds from Medicaid that they can use to keep the program going for an additional three months.

If that money runs out while Congress does nothing, Gov. Ducey has promised to dip into the state’s reserve funds to keep it going. That kind of certainty for the parents of 23,000 children in Arizona on this is vital as they try to plan their annual budgets.

This Congress is about to end its first year. We have witnessed a disappointing amount of turbulence and controversy that has shaken public confidence. Working together to renew the funding for this critical health care program would show they can work in a bipartisan fashion and do something that most Americans support.