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Reporting on science, technology and innovation in Arizona and the Southwest through a collaboration from Arizona NPR member stations. This project is funded in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.Additional stories from the Arizona Science Desk are posted at our collaborating station, KJZZ:

Funding for Children's Medicaid Not Renewed; Thousands of AZ Children at Risk

Children's Action Alliance

The deadline for Congress to re-fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, which insures children from low-income families, passed two weeks ago with no action.  More than 23,000 Arizona children stand to lose coverage.  For the Arizona Science Desk, Maya Springhawk Robnett reports…

As of October 1st, there were 23,199 children covered through KidsCare, Arizona’s children’s Medicaid program.  If Congress does not renew the funding, those children will either have to find alternative coverage or the costs of treatment, prescriptions, check-ups, and even vaccinations would fall to families that cannot afford them.

Dana Wolfe Naimark, CEO and President of the Children’s Action Alliance, said that loss of coverage could have implications beyond just those thousands of children.

“If the vaccination rate goes below certain thresholds, then every child and every adult is at risk because the disease can spread very easily,” Naimark said. “So, that’s a great example of how the health risks go beyond the individual children.”

Naimark said there is no timeline for when or how Congress will re-fund the program.  States are operating on contingency funds that are quickly running out.   Arizona could terminate KidsCare coverage as soon as next month.