KidsCare in Arizona: Advocates fighting to stop automatic freeze

PHOENIX - Child healthcare advocates in Arizona are trying to keep history from repeating itself.

They're fighting to stop an automatic freeze of KidsCare, the state health insurance program for low-income children. It happened in 2010. Currently about 28,000 kids are insured under the program, up from 24,000 at the start of the year.

The program is for families who make too much for Medicaid but not enough to afford private insurance. 

Heather Moffitt found herself in that gap when her long-term boyfriend's company stopped covering domestic partners and their kids. 

She's a full-time graphic designer and does freelance work and says with four kids she still couldn't afford insurance through her employer. She says KidsCare was a critical lifeline and worries about families who may find themselves in a similar situation when the program freezes. 

"People make these assumptions that anyone who gets any kind of assistance is lazy, doesn't want to work, doesn't want to do anything." Moffitt said, "It's frustrating to work full time and know that you can't afford health insurance, it's a basic necessity."

This situation made more critical as President Trump just proposed deep cuts to federal funding for that program. 

As it stands, Arizona law will implement an automatic freeze if federal funding dips below 100% by any amount. It is set to drop to 90% next October.

Supporters are trying to get the freeze eliminated and give the legislature the power to find a supplemental funding source potentially using the rainy day fund or prescription rebates.

During the Red-for-Ed budget vote, democrats tried to add an amendment to save KidsCare but republicans blocked it and won't take up the issue again until the next session in January. 

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