With the signature of Governor Doug Ducey, Arizona has just restored its national insurance plan for children of the working poor.
In an official Twitter post, the Republican governor is seen to be all smiles as he affixed his signature for the restoration of KidsCare hours after the Senate voted 16-12.
KidsCare was frozen back in 2010 due to budgetary constraints, but prior to May 6, Arizona is the only state not to have any health insurance program for children.
The restoration, however, didn't come easy. Governor Ducey never supported the move in public, although his staff made it clear he's always been "open-minded."
"It's common sense and it will help kids," said Daniel Scarpinato, press aide.
It also met strong opposition from Republican Senate President Andy Biggs, who had been blocking the legislation for the past weeks. However, with procedural maneuvers, and with certain Republicans joining the Democrats, Biggs had no option but to allow a vote on Friday. The House had already passed the bill on the night of May 5 at 38-21.
What It Means For Arizona's Children
At least 30,000 of children in Arizona are expected to benefit from KidsCare. These are kids whose parents' annual household income is more than what is eligible for Medicaid. However, income doesn't make them qualified for subsidized health care under the Affordable Care Act.
Eligible children will be provided with a health insurance plan at no cost to their families or to the state until 2017.
The coverage proves to be critical as children are some of the most vulnerable to health conditions that add more financial strain to families.
Hurdles Along The Way
Despite the potential benefits of KidsCare, there are still challenges it needs to pass, one of which is legal.
The provision for its restoration was tacked on a bill that extends school voucher eligibility on disabled children, one that the Republicans who opposed KidsCare wanted. This strategy may be a violation since under the state's constitution, only one subject is allowed per act.
Further, there's still the apprehension whether the program is sustainable.
"While every program ... has an advocate and a desire to accomplish a certain albeit potentially even altruistic or beneficent purpose, at some point one realizes that perhaps we can't afford every program," said Biggs.