Today is my fourth wedding anniversary. And while it’s an important milestone in my own life (and hopefully my husband’s!), I’m also celebrating an anniversary that has provided peace of mind and financial security to thousands of Arkansas families during the recession. One year ago today, President Obama signed into law the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (CHIPRA) to help families find affordable health coverage for their children through its support of ARKids First.
Thanks to CHIPRA, ARKids First is doing its job, providing health security to thousands of families during the financial crisis. While private insurance has become less available and more expensive, CHIP and Medicaid offer a vital lifeline to America’s children. The need is now even greater, as the recession claims more and more families’ health insurance, as well as their jobs. ARKids First and Medicaid have been there to shelter our children from this economic storm. Between July 2008 and December 2009, the programs have helped more than 30,000 more uninsured children and their families.
Families like the Robinsons. In 2007, Jacque Robinson couldn’t afford to add her 12-year-old son to her health insurance policy when her employer switched providers. The new insurance had higher monthly costs and a $1,000 deductible that she would have to cover before the insurance would pay. After more than a year without insurance and frequent prayers, she applied for ARKids First, taking a huge burden off her shoulders. When Jacque received the enrollment notice, “I hugged my son like I paid off my house,” she said. Or the Simpson family from Benton, highlighted in many national stories, who were able to maintain CHIP coverage for their children when Mr. Simpson lost his job as an electrician.
With ARKids First and Medicaid, We Can Cover More Uninsured Arkansas Kids Right Now
While we all wait to see what happens with the planned ARKids First expansion and health reform, we can help our children right now by encouraging Arkansas families to enroll their children in ARKids First. As many as two out of three uninsured children in Arkansas are eligible for ARKids First. Now is the time to help connect families to a support that can help today. Families can get more information by calling 1-888-474-8275 or enroll online at www.arkidsfirst.com.
Through the Finish Line Coalition, we’ll continue to work state and national leaders to cover all kids. But today we also reflect on a major milestone with CHIPRA. And as I eat my anniversary dinner tonight, I’ll be sure to also raise a glass to the Robinsons, the Simpsons and the other 30,000 Arkansas children who have been helped by CHIRPA and ARKids First.
UPDATE: The federal Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a report detailing the progress we’ve seen in children’s coverage thanks to CHIPRA, and our friends at the Georgetown Center for Children and Families also used their Say Ahh! blog to remind us of the importance of this milestone.