Childrens Advocates See Build Back Better Act Improving the Health of AZ’s Children / Public News Service

PHOENIX — Health advocates in Arizona and across the country are pushing the U.S. Senate to approve the Build Back Better Act because it would improve Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), called KidsCare in Arizona.

The bill has already been passed in the House. It would provide 12 months of continuous coverage for Medicaid-eligible children.

Joan Alker, executive director of the Center for Children and Families, co-authored a new memoir, which showed that during Trump’s early years, one in 10 children experienced a gap in coverage during 12 months.

“After seeing this troubling setback in the progress we had made as a country to reduce the number of uninsured children – which stopped in 2017 and started to go in the wrong direction – the Bill Build Back Better was really going to turn that around and start moving the country in the right direction,” Alker argued.

According to the Children’s Action Alliance, children and families of four who earn $53,000 a year or less are eligible for affordable health coverage through CHIP. Opponents of the Build Back Better Act say the $2 trillion program is too expensive.

Alker pointed out that families in states like Arizona often face significant barriers to registering their children and keeping them in the KidsCare program.

“These coverage gaps were more common among Latino and Black children, and 50% of children who had a coverage gap did not see a doctor for the entire year we examined,” reported Alker.

Alker noted that Build Back Better would permanently fund CHIP, so it wouldn’t have to be renewed every few years. It also makes it easier for Arizona and other states to expand eligibility for KidsCare.

“It will provide an opportunity for stability in the CHIP program, to allow states to try to reach the finish line here and cover all children,” Alker said.

Advocates say Arizona, where in 2019 more than 9% of eligible children were not enrolled in CHIP, would benefit greatly from changes planned under the Build Back Better Act.

Disclosure: The Georgetown University Center for Children & Families contributes to our Children’s Issues and Health Issues Reporting Fund. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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