By Gerry Hills

At both, the state and federal level, 2018 elections will determine the fate of health care for children and families. According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation since 2009 the number of uninsured Americans has dropped from around 39% to 11% due to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In Arizona, uninsured children fell from 12% to 7% in large part due to an expansion of the state’s KidsCare program. Despite these improvements, 6.4 million parents are still without health insurance, in Arizona, 14% of children have a parent with no health coverage. Unforeseen medical expenses and accidents can threaten a family’s economic stability and hinder a parent’s ability to care for themselves and their families.

At the federal level, there have been attempts to reverse provisions in the ACA stripping protections for pre-existing conditions from the regulations. This would allow insurance companies to either refuse coverage or charge higher rates to children and families with pre-existing conditions such as genetic disorders, cancer, diabetes, and asthma. Many families would have to choose between health care or housing, food or other basic needs.  The Arizona Legislature will once again debate investing $8 million in state funds to allow $98 million in matching federal to keep the state’s KidsCare health coverage program available for 30,000mchildren. In fact, KidsCare is the primary health care provider for 37% of Arizona’s children.

The United Methodist Social Principal of Social Community Section I. Right of Children and Young People states that “all children and young people have the right to food, shelter, clothing, healthcare, protection, and emotional well-being.” Children and their families need access to safe affordable health care in order to flourish and reach their full potential. Luke 18:16 (NRV), Jesus welcomes and calls us to uphold their dignity and human rights. The Church calls on us to advocate for the protection and the well-being of all children and young people.

When considering who to vote for at the state level, we suggest asking candidates about two key issues:

  • Do they support or oppose investing $8 million in state funds to access $98 million in matching funds to keep Kids Care health coverage open for 30,000 of Arizonan’s children?
  • If Congress removes protections for pre-existing conditions, will you support or oppose requiring health insurance plans in Arizona to cover people with pre-existing conditions?

When considering who to vote for at the federal level, we suggest asking candidates about this key issue:

  • Do they support the continued protection for those with pre-existing conditions which current law provides?

We urge you to learn about the issues, pray for God’s guidance, then go vote on November 6.

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