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Despite Passage of School Vouchers, the Fight for Public Education is NOT Over

Governor Ducey has signed a new law expanding ESA vouchers for private schools to all students statewide after the measure passed the legislature by one vote in each house.

This measure does nothing to address Arizona’s growing teacher shortage crisis, nothing to close the achievement gap for children growing up poor, and nothing to enable public schools to update classroom textbooks and technology. Instead, this bill gives parents a debit card with public tax dollars they can spend on private and religious school tuition, tutoring, or educational therapies.

Higher income students will remain the prime users of ESA vouchers, as they are today. The richest families in our state, who already plan to send their children to private school from K through high school graduation with their own resources, will now be able to get that education subsidized through our income and sales tax dollars – leaving the vast majority of students in neighborhood public schools behind.

The fight for public education is not over! The legislature is still working on the state budget for next year. Now more than ever we need to speak up in support of public education.

Please click here to sign this petition telling our legislature to say yes to teacher raises and no to more tax cuts and tax credits.

 

Protect Our Health Coverage Rally

Join Children’s Action Alliance and community partners for a rally at the Arizona state capitol tomorrow, calling on Congress to protect health coverage for children and families. The U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on the American Health Care Act tomorrow afternoon. This bill will kick millions of people off health insurance, including children and seniors, and make coverage unaffordable for millions of others.

Make your voices heard! Here are details for the event:

Protect Our Coverage Rally
Thursday, March 23, 2017, 12:30 PM
Arizona State Capitol Lawn (East side of building)
1700 W. Washington, Phoenix

How Are Kids Doing in Your Legislative District?

Children’s Action Alliance is pleased to share with you our 2017 legislative district fact sheets, information about Arizona’s 30 legislative districts that is updated annually.

Our work is data-driven, and these fact sheets – which we share each year with lawmakers – give you a good sense of what we analyze on a regular basis to determine our policy priorities for the legislative session. We examine conditions for kids and working families in Arizona and focus our efforts on policies that will enhance the lives of children and their families.

Because conditions for children can vary widely from one region of the state to another, we have included the legislative district with the highest and lowest values, as well as the percentages for the state and nation as a whole for each data point.

We invite you to share this information with others. The more informed our policy makers and advocates are, the more likely we will be able to create a better quality of life for Arizona in general.

Urge Your Elected Officials to Say NO to the American Health Care Act

Together, we have made a huge difference; let’s keep up the good work! Here are two important actions you can take this week:

1) Today, March 16th, is National Medicaid Call-In Day. People from around the country will call Congress to tell them to vote NO on the American Health Care Act. Call 1-866-426-2631 to speak to your congressional representative.

2) Email Governor Ducey using this simple form to let him know you want him to stick to his statement that Congress should not pull the rug out from under Arizonans.

The American Health Care Act (AHCA) will go to the House floor for a vote next week. Here is what it means for Arizona and our nation:

  • By the year 2026, the number of uninsured Americans will increase by 24 million, mostly due to Medicaid cuts, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. Medicaid is known as the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) here.
  • In Arizona, almost 2 million low-income children, people with disabilities, seniors in long term care, parents, and working adults are at risk for losing their health care.
  • According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, older and lower-income Arizonans would be most at risk of losing health coverage under the AHCA’s tax credits.
  • Cuts to Medicaid will further strain Arizona’s school budgets, as 45% of the costs for providing services to Arizona’s students with disabilities comes from federal Medicaid dollars.
  • This unprecedented transfer of financial risk to Arizona will cut jobs and hurt our state’s economy.

House GOP Health Care Proposal Would Make Coverage Unaffordable for Arizonans

PDF Version 

Fewer Available Tax Credits Would Hit Arizona Hard

(Phoenix, AZ) – Arizona would be among the states facing the biggest cuts to tax credits in the nation under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) repeal plan being considered by House Committees this week, according to new estimates released today by the Washington, DC-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Where tax credits would fall by an average of $1,700, or 36 percent, for marketplace consumers across all states, they would fall by an average of $3,548, or 55 percent, in Arizona.

That’s largely because the House plan’s tax credits, unlike those in the ACA, would not adjust for geographic variation in premiums. Under current law, a 45-year old with income of $22,000 could purchase benchmark health insurance coverage for $1,200 or less anywhere in the country. Under the House plan, she would pay at least $5,200 to purchase comparable coverage in Arizona.

The reduction in tax credits would be even more severe for lower-income and older consumers. Older people would also be hit hard by a provision in the House bill that would let them be charged higher premiums, and lower-income people would lose help with deductibles, copays, and coinsurance.

“The House Republican health plan would drive insurance costs so high that many Arizonans could no longer afford it – especially low-income and older people.” said Dana Wolfe Naimark, president and CEO of Children’s Action Alliance. “Arizona’s uninsured rates has dropped from over 20 percent to 11 percent as the Affordable Care Act’s major coverage reforms took effect. Reversing these historic gains and putting Arizona’s health insurance market in jeopardy would be highly irresponsible.”

House Plan Could Destabilize, or Even Collapse, Individual Market

President Trump has promised to replace the ACA with a plan that provides “good coverage at much less cost.” However, the House plan’s severe cuts to tax credits in Arizona would almost certainly result in large coverage losses for low- and moderate-income people. Those coverage losses would be bad for the people losing access to care, but they could also destabilize Arizona’s individual market for everyone. That’s because the enrollment declines could lead to large increases in premiums, resulting in further enrollment declines and further premium increases. The feedback loop could continue until Arizona’s individual market shrank substantially, and coverage for everyone became far less affordable.

House Plan Would End Medicaid As We Know It

The House Republican health plan would effectively end Arizona’s Medicaid expansion under the ACA, under which more than 400,000 Arizonans have gained coverage. It would also radically restructure Medicaid’s federal financing system and cut federal Medicaid funding for states over time. This would quickly squeeze the state budget, and lead to cuts in Medicaid coverage and services for children, seniors, and people with disabilities.

“More than one in three children in Arizona count on Medicaid for affordable coverage that includes check-ups, prescriptions, and treatments kids need. The Republican bill would put all those kids at risk. It would take us backwards on healthy childhoods, behavioral health treatment for kids and parents to keep families strong, and the ability of kids to succeed in school,” said Naimark.

To read the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ full analysis of the impacts of the House Republican ACA repeal plan tax credits, please visit the center’s website.

For county-specific data on the impacts of the House Republican ACA repeal plan tax credits, please visit: http://kaiserf.am/2lSCggd.

To learn more about the impact on states of the House Republican plan to radically overhaul Medicaid, please visit: http://bit.ly/2m0sTv4.

Here is a fact sheet on the impact the proposal would have in Arizona. 

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A Spot of Good News: The Number of Kids in Foster Care is Dropping

Little girl cropped photoSome good news from the Department of Child Safety (DCS): The number of children in foster care has been declining with children moving to permanent homes from foster care and fewer children entering care. As of December 2016, there were 17,149 children in foster care down from a high of 19,044 in February.

Another promising sign is that DCS is succeeding in its goal to reduce the number of open reports and to close old reports (aka “the backlog”). These focus areas allow for the reduction of caseloads and help diminish the trauma and expense of foster care.
The number of children living with unlicensed relatives has been growing and is higher than the number living with licensed foster families. Relatives who are able and willing to open their hearts and homes help children maintain family connections and grow up strong. Governor Ducey has supported several steps to give these kinship families who are struggling a little bit of help. Arizona can gain big by continuing to improve the security of these families.

In June 2015, the Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago released its Independent Review of DCS as commissioned by the legislature. The initial report discussed findings and provided 26 recommendations to improve the operations In February 2017, Chapin Hall provided an assessment of the progress reported by DCS. The vast majority of the recommendations are in the process of being implemented and Chapin Hall points out that DCS has a long way to go in bringing change to scale – both geographically and substantively.

 

You Are Invited to Take Part in a Listening Session on Health Care

canstockphoto1969821As Congress continues to debate the fate of the Affordable Care Act, we encourage you to join us tomorrow evening for a Children’s Action Alliance’s Congressional Health Care Listening Session in Phoenix.

Members of Congress are in recess and in their home districts this week. We have invited Arizona’s senators and district representatives to participate, either by attending themselves or sending a staff aide.

We will give policy updates about health care and present questions to Congressional representatives, focusing on four broad policy areas:

• Coverage for people with pre-existing conditions and annual and lifetime caps
• Medicaid (Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, or AHCCCS, in Arizona)
• The Health Insurance Marketplace
• Children with special health care needs

The event is being held:
Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017
6:00 p.m.
Longview Elementary School
1209 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix

Parking is available in the lot northeast of campus off 12th Street

This is an opportunity for you learn more about our health care landscape and share your questions, concerns and hopes for the future of your health care. Attendees will be invited to submit questions and comments as part of the session.

Policy Brief: Arizona Families and Economy Count on the Affordable Care Act

Our latest policy brief: Arizona Families and Economy Count on Health Coverage in the Affordable Care Act. ACA Fact book

Join Advocates for Public Education at the State Capitol Monday

Monday is Presidents’ Day — Bring your kids and a couple of friends to celebrate with fellow champions for public education and show our elected officials our support for investments in teachers and students.
AZ Schools Now will meet at 10:30 in front of the State House of Representatives, 1700 W. Washington in Phoenix. Free parking is available directly across the street at Wesley Bolin Plaza.

• Get a tour of the capitol
• Share your personal story about why public schools matter
• Sign up on the legislative system so you can take positions on bills in the future from your own computer
• Watch the lawmakers in session and get a shout out from a legislator to show our strength
• Bring information about vouchers to your own representatives and senator

 

New Study Finds Repeal of Health Care Law Would Damage Arizona’s Economy

canstockphoto2101033Your efforts to reach out to Arizona senators John McCain and Jeff Flake to oppose a repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) without a simultaneous solid replacement are working! Whether you have called or messaged them in the last month, Congress is holding off on repealing the ACA.

Here are two important new tools to help our delegation make the right decisions for Arizona. Children’s Action Alliance commissioned the W.P. Carey School of Business at ASU to study the specific economic impact in Arizona of repealing federal funding for the ACA. The results are stunning: wiping out 60,000 jobs and putting the brakes on our economic growth. The analysis shows that repeal will bring about something we’ve never seen in Arizona before: a health care recession.

Here is our latest fact sheet on why repealing without replacing the ACA is bad for Arizona families.

Congress will be on recess between February 20 – 24, so our senators and representatives will be back home in Arizona. Stay on the lookout for emails and alerts from us to give you an opportunity to reach out to them in person.