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14,000 children will lose health coverage today

sick little girlToday, Arizona’s Kids Care II expires, ending health coverage for 14,000 children. Arizona is the only state in the US phasing out our Children’s Health Insurance Program, which provides $3 in federal funds for every $1 spent by the state. Thanks to Obamacare, of the approximately 37,000 children on Kids Care II, 23,000 qualify for Medicaid and will be automatically transferred into Medicaid coverage. But 14,000 children will lose coverage.

It is a priority for the state and the community to do all we can to connect children with coverage through the new Marketplace. Families can get personal assistance from Navigator organizations that are certified to help with the Marketplace application process. To reach a Navigator, families can call 211, select the option to get help with the Affordable Care Act, and input their zip code. Consumers can also apply directly at or call the federal healthcare hotline at 1-800-318-2596.

Unfortunately, the loss of KidsCare will still leave families suffering hardships. A glitch in the federal laws means that some families who really can’t afford coverage for their children through their employer will not qualify for a subsidy. And families who have children with special health care needs may see dramatic increases in their out-of-pocket costs for health care. This means there is more work ahead to strengthen children’s health care in our state.

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AZ Kids Lag in Reading Proficiency

In a new KIDS COUNT data snapshot released today, the Annie E. Casey Foundations reports that a large majority of children in the United States are not reading proficiently by the time they reach fourth grade – a key predictor of a student’s future educational and economic success. If this trend continues, the country will not have enough skilled workers for an increasingly competitive global economy by the end of this decade.

In Arizona, only 28% of fourth graders were reading proficiently by fourth grade. While this is an improvement from only 23% in 2003, it’s still far below the national rate of 34%.

2013 NAEP scores

Of even greater concern is that the gap between students from higher- and lower-income families in Arizona is among the nation’s highest. Only 15% of 4th graders living in low-income households read proficiently in 2013, while 43% of their higher-income counterparts scored in the proficient level or above.

Arizona can do more to help students score higher in all income brackets by sustaining long term commitments to strategies that have proven to help children read at grade level by the 4th grade. Arizona lawmakers have zeroed out funding for many of these programs in the last five years and children living in low-income households are disproportionately affected.

Check out the KIDS COUNT Data Center to learn more about how the children of Arizona are doing.