Arizona’s KidsCare expansion: A step toward a healthier future for our children

By Oscar De Los Santos

October 27, 2023

Finally, some good news.

Arizona recently took a significant step forward by expanding KidsCare, a program designed to provide guaranteed healthcare coverage for children who cannot afford it. As your elected Representative from Legislative District 11 (South Phoenix), I couldn’t be prouder to see a program that has been a lifeline for thousands of Arizona families expanded this year to serve 10,000 more.

Expanding access to healthcare

KidsCare, approved in bipartisan fashion during the 1998 fourth special legislative session, has long been a symbol of Arizona’s commitment to the health of its youngest residents. The recent expansion ensures that even more children will have access to essential healthcare services.

While the previous eligibility thresholds made it difficult for some families to qualify, the revised program now extends its coverage to a wider range of income levels. This means that more kids, regardless of their family’s financial situation, can receive the medical attention they need to thrive.

All children deserve healthcare

One of the most remarkable aspects of Kidscare is its ability to level the playing field. It recognizes that every child deserves an equal shot at a healthy life, regardless of their economic background. By guaranteeing healthcare coverage, Arizona is acknowledging that no matter whether their parent is a corporate executive or a cook, a child should always have the ability to see a doctor.

The benefits of expanded Kidscare are profound. First and foremost, it means that more children will receive regular check-ups and vaccinations, which are essential for preventing and managing illnesses. Regular healthcare also helps identify and address developmental and behavioral issues early, setting the stage for better outcomes in school and life.

And the benefits only grow from there. Kidscare expansion leads to a healthier overall population. When children have access to healthcare, they are less likely to miss school due to illness, reducing educational disparities. Healthy children are more likely to become healthy adults, leading to a stronger, more productive workforce in the future. This not only benefits individual families but also the entire state’s economy.

Would KidsCare legislation pass today?

It’s important to acknowledge the bipartisan support that made this expansion possible. Healthcare disparities and affordability impact all of us. In a time when political polarization often paralyzes progress, Arizona has shown that when it comes to the well-being of our children, there is common ground.

This commitment should serve as an inspiration to lawmakers at both the state and federal levels. I am committed to fight for more coverage expansions when I return to the Legislature next year.

Keeping KidsCare alive

Of course, no program is without its challenges, and Kidscare expansion is no exception. Funding, administrative efficiency, and outreach to eligible families are all critical areas that need attention. However, the fact that these challenges exist should not deter us from recognizing the incredible value that Kidscare brings to our state.

Arizona’s recent expansion of Kidscare is a reason to celebrate. We should take pride in our state’s commitment to ensuring that every child has the opportunity to grow up healthy and strong. Kidscare expansion is not just a program; it’s a statement about our values as a community. It says that we believe in the potential of every child and that we are willing to invest in their future.

Families can apply for Kidscare online via AHCCCS.

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