Arizona became the first state to drop its state children’s health insurance program (SCHIP) when Gov. Jan Brewer (R) signed the 2011 budget in March. The change will leave close to 47,000 children without coverage.
Arizona faces a $2.6 billion budget shortfall, and eliminating its SCHIP was one of several cuts in social programs signed into law by Brewer. Because it is a program that matches federal and state dollars, the state is also surrendering millions of dollars from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
SCHIP was created in 1998 to provide insurance for children whose parents make too much to be eligible for Medicaid, but too little to pay for private coverage for their children. The federal commitment to SCHIP was extended to at least 2019 in the health care reform law signed by President Barack Obama in March.