Families relieved amid KidsCare extension, but uncertainty lingers

Families relieved amid KidsCare extension, but uncertainty lingers
(Source: KOLD News 13)

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - After some uncertainty, thousands of families in southern Arizona will continue to be covered under KidsCare after lawmakers approved funding for CHIP for the next six years.

The program provides low-cost healthcare for children whose parents make too much money to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford insurance.

Supporters of the program said it eases the burden for families who may be forced to choose between taking their child to the doctor or paying for their rent.

El Rio Health is one of Pima County's largest providers for KidsCare. Doctors there said families are still confused about what's going on with the program.

That's why doctors and staff are focusing on educating patients and letting them know they're still eligible for the program.

Dr. Doug Stegman, Clinical Chief Officer of Internal Medicine at El Rio, said families are relieved about the extension, but some are still uncertain and fearful.

They're worried about what happens after the six years are up. He said while they can't control what happens, providers and families can make sure lawmakers understand the need for the program.

"It's a time for the community and for us who see ourselves as voice for the people in the community to stand up to be clear about what is needed," he said.

Meanwhile, lawmakers have introduced a bill aimed at protecting the program. The idea is that KidsCare would be preserved even if federal funds for CHIP are pulled. HB 2127, however, is still being debated.

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