KNAU and Arizona News
4:31 pm
Mon November 28, 2011

Proposal unveiled to boost federal funding for children's healthcare

A plan by three hospitals unveiled today to boost their federal funding will also help provide care for some children of the working poor. 

The proposal submitted to federal officials would let Phoenix Children's Hospital and health networks run by the University of Arizona and Maricopa Medical Center pool some funds to provide care for the uninsured and get back a two for one federal match. But federal officials, who earlier agreed to let Arizona cut back its Medicaid program, said they're interested only if some of that money goes to Kids Care. It covers children whose parents make too much for Medicaid but are still considered working poor. The state stopped enrolling children last year when enrollment was about 47,000. It is now down to about 15,000 -- with about 128,000 on waiting lists. This plan will generate nearly$174 million a year for the three hospitals -- and $44.6 million for Kids Care, enough to add back 19,000 into the program. Gov. Jan Brewer, who imposed the earlier enrollment freeze to save state funds, praised the idea.

"Working together we can find creative solutions, including these new pools," Brewer said. "Locally designed solutions, not federal mandates, are the best way to move forward ensuring Arizonans continue to have access to the best quality health care possible at an affordable cost."

Don Hughes, the governor's health care adviser, said he expects final word from the feds in January or February.