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Experts Say Medicaid/AHCCCS is Critical to Arizona’s Economy

Thanks to all of you who joined our panel of economists and business leaders on Tuesday, June 6th at the Medicaid Works forum to discuss the connection between Medicaid, jobs and economic growth.

We learned a lot from our moderator, Don Henninger, and panelists Lee McPheters, Mike Hutchinson, Josh Nuñez, and David Lujan.

McPheters stressed that Medicaid, known as the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, or AHCCCS, is a critical part of the state’s economic growth.

“A loss of federal funds for Medicaid could trigger a health care recession and have dramatic ripple effects throughout our economy. There is no way the private sector could replace the current Medicaid health care system that now covers 2 million people in Arizona,” McPheters told the audience.

Lujan, who served in the Arizona legislature for eight years, added that no matter how solid an education system is, children need regular health care to succeed. He also said if Congress makes good on plans to turn health care responsibility over to the states, Governor Ducey will be the one deciding which families get to keep health coverage and which don’t. “Governor Ducey will be the one signing the state budget that wipes out treatment and coverage for thousands of people in our state.”

The forum, sponsored by Vitalyst Health Foundation, Protecting Arizona’s Family Coalition, and Children’s Action Alliance, included questions from participants. Attendees pointed out that Arizona senators John McCain and Jeff Flake have a critical role to play in standing up for Arizona’s economic needs as the US Senate develops its own health care legislation.

 

Join The AZ Schools Now Network

A little more than a year ago, Children’s Action Alliance joined forces with nine other organizations to form a coalition focused on reinvesting in Arizona’s public schools.

The coalition, AZ Schools Now, has brought parents, teachers, school board members, and community advocates together to advance policies that address our teacher shortage and strengthen public schools. We have held statewide community budget hearings, sent postcards to our legislators, highlighted key education issues for the media, met with lawmakers, and organized rallies at the Capitol.

To make this voice for public education strong and unified, we are asking you to join the AZ Schools Now network.

Click here to get email updates and notice of events

To learn more, visit our new website.

Together we can improve educational opportunities for Arizona’s future.

Let Congress Know They MUST Protect KidsCare!

KidsCare is threatened once again in Arizona. President Trump’s budget slashes CHIP funding and will cause an immediate freeze to KidsCare. Since the freeze on KidsCare was lifted in September of 2016, 20,000 children now have health coverage, with hundreds more signing up every week.

Email our congressional delegation today to let them know we need to keep KidsCare for Arizona’s children. If you don’t know your congressional district, click here to find it.

Sample Email:

I’m writing to ask you to act quickly to make sure we can continue KidsCare health coverage in Arizona. President Trump’s budget slashes CHIP funding and will cause an immediate freeze to KidsCare. Thanks to KidsCare, 20,000 children can now see a doctor for preventative care or when they are sick. Let’s not take Arizona backwards, especially by kicking children off of lifesaving health coverage. Act now to protect CHIP funding in the budget!

District representatives and senators can be reached by clicking on the hyperlinks below.

Senator John McCain Contact Form
Senator Jeff Flake Contact Form
Congressional District 1 Tom O’Halleran
Congressional District 2 Martha McSally
Congressional District 3 Raul Grijalva
Congressional District 4 Paul Gosar
Congressional District 5 Andy Biggs
Congressional District 6 David Schweikert
Congressional District 7 Ruben Gallego
Congressional District 8 Trent Franks
Congressional District 9 Kyrsten Sinema

Join CAA and Our Partners for a Discussion on Medicaid

PDF Version 

Join our panel of economic and business experts to learn how

Medicaid Works!

Join us for a discussion about Medicaid in Arizona (AHCCCS)

and how it benefits the state budget, local economies and working families.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

6:00pm to 8:00pm

ASU Preparatory Academy

735 E Fillmore St., Phoenix

Panelists include:

Lee McPheters, Arizona State University

Mike Hutchinson, East Valley Partnership

David Lujan, Arizona Center for Economic Progress

Moderator: Don Henninger, DH Advisors and SCOTT

Please RSVP by Monday, June 5 to Charlie Fisher at (602) 525-4889
Light refreshments will be served

ICYMI: A Snapshot of Lawmakers’ 2017 – 18 Budget

PDF Version for printing here

If you’ve not had a chance to get caught up on the latest legislative news since the session ended, here is a quick snapshot of what it looks like for the next fiscal year:

The Good and Not-So-Good of the 2018 State Budget

The state legislature ended its 2017 session last night. There were a few small bright spots for children and families. But the big decisions put us on a path to endanger children’s health, education and security going forward. Many Arizona lawmakers continue to point to the 2009 Great Recession, to blame struggling parents, and to vilify cities and school boards instead of standing up to take responsibility for the policy decisions in their hands.

Arizona kids need our voices and our commitment to build a better future.

Below is a brief summary with more details to come soon.

Small bright spots:

• A new law streamlines the application process for SNAP benefits (food stamps). This law will help alleviate hunger in Arizona by removing a cumbersome and expensive requirement for in-person finger imaging.
• Aunts, uncles and other relatives who raise abused and neglected children rather than placing them in foster care will now be able to get a small monthly payment to keep them more financially stable.
• School districts with a high percentage of low-income students can apply for $8 million in grants to strengthen their early literacy strategies and improve third grade reading success.
• Some moms who participate in TANF cash assistance will be able to care for their children and get more time to prepare to re-enter the workforce. Moms who have perfect compliance with requirements for their children’s school attendance and job search will be able to extend participation for up to 12 additional months beyond the 12-month lifetime limit. See Governor Ducey’s statement directing his administration to work with us on helping families succeed.
• New legislation takes one step forward in giving youth in foster care a tool they need to support their transition into adulthood. The law permits youth living in foster care who are at least 16 years old and who have taken a driver safety course to buy auto insurance on their own.

Big danger for children and families:

• The budget invests only a 1% increase in teacher pay with another 1% “intended” for next year. Due to the intentional structure of this item in the budget, it is not built into ongoing state funding for schools so districts and charters can’t count on it permanently. As a result, they will probably use it for one-time bonuses for teachers, rather than for pay raises.
• Small amounts of new funding were added to a number of small education initiatives, with no focused impact to address the teacher shortage or the achievement gap for low-income students.
• A new law expands ESA school vouchers to allow subsidies for private schools for every student, no matter what their income. The number of new vouchers is allowed to grow each year until 2022 with more state tax dollars removed from public schools without accountability.
• State lawmakers took no action and made no plan to close an annual deficit of $1.1 billion in cuts to public schools that have not been restored, leaving Arizona families and businesses facing a teacher shortage, outdated textbooks and technology, and unsafe school buses and school facilities.
• Governor Ducey and a majority of lawmakers chose private schools, political soundbites, and corporate giveaways above children’s health, education and security. Private school tax credits continue to grow by 20% each year while by fiscal year 2020 new tax cuts will take more than $30 million out of the coffers for education with no evidence of any return on investment.
• Arizona remains an outlier, leaving our children behind children in every other state in the nation with the lowest rates of child care assistance, the lowest teacher salaries, the shortest lifetime limit on assistance for poor moms and children.

Sign Our Mothers Day Request for Senators Flake and McCain

Join us in sending a message to Arizona senators John McCain and Jeff Flake: Preserve health care for children and families, particularly those with pre-existing conditions.

You can sign the petition here. Thank you for standing up for Arizona families!

 

Thank You, So. Arizona, for Helping Us Celebrate Champion for Children, Susie Huhn

A big thank you to Southern Arizona friends and partners for joining us at our Champion for Children event in Tucson last night to celebrate Casa de los Niños CEO Susie Huhn. Susie is respected throughout Arizona and around the country for her extraordinary work with the community and families.

Susie has concentrated her focus on issues related to child abuse, neglect and prevention, as well as behavioral health treatment for children and youth. Her expertise has made Susie a valuable resource for child advocates, government officials, other child welfare organizations. She is generous in sharing her time and talent and going beyond the walls of her own organization to speak up for children and families.

Susie is past president of Prevent Child Abuse Arizona, serves as advocacy chair for Arizona Council of Health and Human Service Providers and she is a board member of the National Council for Behavioral Health. Congratulations to Susie for a well-deserved honor.

Pictured above right: CAA president & CEO Dana Wolfe Naimark, Champion for Children honoree Susie Huhn and CAA board member Brinton Milward at the celebration on May 4, 2017.

State Budget Behind Closed Doors: Not Enough to Protect Arizona Families

State budget negotiations have been behind the scenes like usual and an official budget proposal was released yesterday for hearings today. While the budget has some small signs of progress for children and families, the big picture will do nothing to improve children’s health education and security. The good news is the votes are not nailed down and there is still a chance to re-shape this budget!

If you have a “Request to Speak” RTS account on the legislative computer system, please click here and sign in against the main budget bills, HB 2537 and SB 1522. Please ask legislators to vote NO on any budget without a 4% teacher raise.

A summary budget chart is attached and some highlights/lowlights are listed below.

  • The budget includes funding for a 1% teacher raise next year and anticipates an additional 1% raise the following year. We are calling for at least a 4% teacher raise next year to take a meaningful step to address our teacher shortage crisis.
  • The budget includes $37 million in “results-based” funding for select district schools and charter schools that are already excelling. Most of the funds go to higher income schools so they will not help close the achievement gap and the funds are not guaranteed for future years so they can’t be used for teacher salaries or ongoing expenses.
  • Nothing in the budget helps children growing up poor to prepare for success in school. Child care rates remain the lowest in the country with thousands of qualified working parents turned away every year. The lifetime limit for TANF cash assistance remains 12 months – the lowest in the nation. Almost no welfare reform funds are spent on job training and helping people move successfully into the workforce.
  • Hidden below the surface of the printed budget are millions more of our tax dollars going to private schools through tax credits and ESA vouchers, corporate tax cuts still phasing in, and new business tax cuts that will grow over time — all leaving fewer resources for public schools.

Young Adults Aging Out of Foster Care Should Get Health Coverage Through Medicaid

For young people who have experienced foster care, access to affordable health insurance is critical to their everyday success. While Federal Law has expanded health coverage to alumni who were in foster care at age 18, there are significant roadblocks to enrolling in and maintaining coverage.

Our policy brief, Health Insurance for Youth Formerly in Foster Care – Focus on Medicaid Coverage in Arizona, examines the barriers many youth in foster care face and recommendations to ensure eligible young people can get the health insurance coverage they need to thrive in adulthood.

We also spotlight community provider Phoenix Day; their HealthLinks program provides state-wide support to youth who have aged out of foster care with immediate enrollment assistance. Call Phoenix Day at 602.252.4911, extension 104 to help with the enrollment application.

“When I was 19 and a student at ASU, I got sick and had to go the emergency room. I was given medication and sent home. Three weeks later I got a $12,000 bill in the mail. I was shocked because I thought I had health insurance under the Young Adult Transitional Insurance (YATI) program until I turned 26. Without knowing, I had been dropped from the program. With the help of my caseworker, I reenrolled and was able to get the emergency room visit covered, but the amount of stress that it created for me was unreal.” Ray, Arizona young adult formerly in foster care