Friday, September 24, 2010

Warning: If you have a child on AZ's KidsCare, don't apply for AHCCCS

I don't often agree with Laurie Roberts of the Arizona Republic, but her columns are usually thought -provoking, and once in a while, she hits one out of the park.

From her latest piece
Life hasn't been easy the last few years for Dianne and Patrick McKeen. Like many couples, they're struggling in this economy but they're managing.

They've learned to live without life's little luxuries, things like health insurance. Still, they count themselves fortunate. They, at least, were able to buy their daughter health-care coverage through KidsCare.

Then Dianne got sick this summer and along came the state of Arizona with nine of the most terrifying words in the English language: We're from the government and we're here to help.

Now 7-year-old Sierra McKeen is about to be kicked to the health-care curb.


On the day of her release from the hospital, Dianne got a letter saying she'd been approved for AHCCCS, under a “spend-down” program that takes into account your medical bills.

What no one told her -- until it was too late, that is -- was that her stint on AHCCCS would be temporary … and that once she was on AHCCCS, her family would also be put on AHCCCS … and that once Sierra was on AHCCCS, she'd be taken off of KidsCare … and that once their AHCCCS expired, Sierra would have to go onto a waiting list to get back onto KidsCare.

They also didn't mention that the term ‘waiting list' is a tad misleading because it's a wait that never ends. By decree of the Arizona Legislature and Gov. Jan Brewer, KidsCare is frozen.
Just to back up what Roberts wrote, from the main page of KidsCare's website -
KidsCare Program Changes

The KidsCare Office is unable to approve any new applications. Enrollment in the KidsCare Program has been frozen since January 1, 2010 due to lack of funding for the program, however, you can still apply. DES will review your application first, to determine if your family may be eligible for AHCCCS Health Insurance. If your children are not eligible for AHCCCS Health Insurance, but it appears they may be eligible for KidsCare, and you are willing to pay a premium, DES will send their information to the KidsCare Office to add them to the KidsCare waiting list. The waiting list will be prioritized based on the date of the application. The oldest application date will be on the top of the list. If funding becomes available, the KidsCare Office will contact you.
Let me be clear here -

I think that most of the rank-and-file workers at the State of Arizona are people trying to serve the public the best that they can under extremely dire circumstances.  They should be lauded, and thanked, for their service to the people of matter how much the likes of Jan Brewer, Russell Pearce, and the rest of the R contingent at the Capitol like to demonize them.

However, temporarily enrolling a desperately ill woman into AHCCCS and using that as leverage to permanently remove a child from KidsCare is inexcusably shameless.


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