News

AZ kids are at risk of losing health coverage

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act of 2020 temporarily increased the federal government’s share of Medicaid costs. In return, states are prohibited from disenrolling anyone from Medicaid or CHIP (AHCCCS or KidsCare in Arizona) unless they move, die, or request to be disenrolled. This has kept many children and families from losing coverage. As the pandemic begins to wane this temporary relief will end and our state leaders must act swiftly to #KeepAZKidsCovered.

A new report by the Georgetown Center for Children and Families (CCF) shows that 851,574 children - nearly half (49%) of all children in Arizona - were enrolled in AHCCCS or KidsCare in 2021.* Between February of 2020 and June of 2021, enrollment in these programs increased by nearly 100,000 children.

We’ll be hosting a Facebook Live discussion to explore how advocates can help minimize coverage loss in their communities, as well as steps our state policymakers can take to #CoverAZKids and #KeepAZKidsCovered.

The federal public health emergency could expire in the next few months, at which point AHCCCS will resume their standard renewal practices and disenroll people who fail to respond or who no longer qualify. By AHCCCS’ own estimates, 500,000 people are likely to be disenrolled after the public health emergency ends. Many of these individuals are likely still eligible for coverage, but have fallen through the administrative cracks.

What can our leaders do to #KeepAZKidsCovered? Here are a few ideas to start:

  1. Invest in health care outreach and enrollment support (CoverAZ.org and 2-1-1 can help families find coverage year-round!)
  2. Boost AHCCCS funding to ensure the agency is fully equipped to assist applicants and process renewals.
  3. Increase income eligibility for KidsCare to ensure kids have access to quality health care while their families build a solid financial foundation.
  4. Provide continuous enrollment for children enrolled in AHCCCS and KidsCare, so children who that qualify at any point in the year can stay connected to care even if their household income fluctuates.
  5. Offer transparent access to state disenrollment data, so advocates can engage in targeted outreach to families who lose coverage.

*Arizona does not provide detailed data on children’s AHCCCS or CHIP enrollment to the federal government. CCF relied on administrative reports to make this estimation. See “Methodology.”

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