Health plan for needy kids rejected by Arizona lawmakers

PHOENIX - The Republican-controlled House on Tuesday refused to restore a federally-funded health insurance program for children that's used by every other state in the country.

House Democrats staged a last-ditch fight to revive the KidsCare program with an amendment to the state budget.

Republicans said allowing the amendment would have "blown up" the state budget, even though the program costs the state nothing.

The vote was 25-24 to reject the amendment, with 11 House Republicans sitting out the vote.

Just a few months ago, the House had passed a bill restoring KidsCare with strong bipartisan support. But Senate President Andy Biggs wouldn't give the bill a hearing in his chamber.

An estimated 30,000 children of lower-income working parents would have been covered by KidsCare. The program was suspended by the Legislature during the recession. 

The cost of the program is covered by federal dollars at least through 2017 and possibly through 2019. 

Gov. Doug Ducey had been non-committal on restoring KidsCare. But he has not been a fan of accepting federal dollars for health insurance.

In his 2014 run for governor, Ducey questioned the financial viability of the Medicaid program. As governor, he introduced a Medicaid reform plan that would kick 350,000 people off the rolls.

The almost $10 billion state budget for next year was expected to be approved by the Legislature later Tuesday evening. 

Copyright 2016 KPNX


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