Crunch Time for KidsCare Too

The Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is a program that provides health insurance coverage for uninsured children in families with incomes that are modest but too high to qualify for Medicaid (AHCCCS). To continue operating, the CHIP program needs to be reauthorized by Congress by September 30.

In our state, CHIP is called KidsCare. AHCCCS offers health insurance through KidsCare for kids (under age 19) who aren’t eligible for other AHCCCS health insurance. There are several eligibility criteria- but the basic income criteria is a family income less than 200% of the federal poverty level.  Right now, about 23,000 kids are insured through Kids Care.  AZ also gets CHIP matching funds that covers an additional 73,000 kids via AHCCCS.

Arizona law requires AHCCCS to freeze enrollment if the federal match goes below its current level, meaning that there would be an enrollment freeze if Congress lowers the federal match below 100% as part of a funding reauthorization.

Last week there was an agreement struck in the Senate Finance Committee between Senators Hatch and Wyden on extending CHIP funding for 5 years but with a scaling down of the federal match.  So far, my understanding is that starting in FFY 2020, the federal matching rate would be reduced bump will be reduced and beginning in 2021 the federal match will go back to the regular CHIP match (for Arizona that’s 79% federal and 21% state match). 

Bottom line is that if this amendment goes through with the reauthorization bill, it would probably mean that KidsCare would continue as is through September 30, 2019.  After that, the program would freeze enrollment unless a state law is changed allowing for an alternative federal matching rate.  If the reauthorization doesn’t go through at all I’m not sure what would happen.

Please urge Senators McCain and Flake to reauthorize full funding of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (KidsCare in Arizona) and to keep the federal match rate at 100%.

Contact Senator John McCain and Senator Jeff Flake:

     Sen. John McCain: (202) 224-2235 or (602) 952-2410

     Sen. Jeff Flake: (202) 224-4521 or (602) 840-1891

Senator McCain indicated that he looks to the Governor for guidance. Please contact the governor’s office to urge the governor to support reauthorization of CHIP funding at 100% match.

     Gov. Ducey: (602) 542-4331 or (520) 628-6580