Posted by Tara Manthey on February 8th 2011
More than 100 child advocates and children symbolically cut red tape to encourage passage of bill to streamline health insurance enrollment.
LITTLE ROCK-More than 100 child advocates and children symbolically ripped through red tape today at the Capitol to urge the passage of a bill that would streamline ARKids First enrollment and renewal procedures.
Equipped with safety scissors, children cut through red tape to call attention to the 20,000 children a year who fall off ARKids First coverage because of unnecessary bureaucracy. Senate Bill 65, sponsored by Sen. Jimmy Jeffress, would help reduce the number of uninsured Arkansas children and make Arkansas government more efficient.
"Children shouldn't miss out on stable health care because a form was lost in the mail," said Elisabeth Wright Burak, health policy and legislative affairs director for Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families. "Between 2007 and 2009, nearly half of the children leaving ARKids First rolls were dropped for paperwork or procedural reasons, not because their family income made them ineligible."
Senate Bill 65 would:
- Ensure consistent coverage for an entire year for lower-income children on ARKids First A. Kids on ARKids First B already have this benefit.
- Allow Department of Human Services workers to use other state databases to verify a child's eligibility for ARKids First A rather than only a signed paper form from a parent.
- Create "express lane" eligibility by using a child's application from other services, such as the free school lunch program, so families don't have to fill out multiple forms several times a year.
AACF estimates that the bill would cost the state about $4 million to cover the children who would stay enrolled each year. The state would also draw $8 million in matching money from the federal government to share the cost of covering the children.
"These are children who the state has already committed to covering because healthy children are better able to learn and grow into productive adults," Burak said. "The cost of this legislation is minimal compared to the savings DHS would see from reduced paperwork, the state would see in fewer child trips to the emergency room and that our society would see when these excel in the classroom and in careers."
Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families is a statewide, non-profit child advocacy organization established in 1977. Our mission is to ensure that all children and their families have the resources and opportunities to lead healthy and productive lives and to realize their full potential. On the web at www.aradvocates.org.