by Deirdre Byrne, Director of Policy, Children's Health Fund
On September 20th, 2010, Children's Health Fund (CHF) is partnering with the Children’s Action Alliance and the Arizona Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics to hold a child health forum in Tucson, Arizona.
Children's Health Fund has two national network programs in Arizona, the Phoenix Children’s Health Project and the Southern Arizona Children’s Health Project. While each program serves a unique patient population, they both deal with legislative decisions made at the state level, including budget cuts to important child health programs and supportive services on which patients and families depend.
Arizona has suffered more than most states in the current economic downfall. Facing a $5.1 billion shortfall in 2010 (57.9% of the general budget), the state legislature passed and the governor approved the elimination of the state’s Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). However, due to the passage of health care reform, the state would have lost millions in federal aid with the elimination of CHIP. In an early signal of how the federal health care reform law will interact with state health policy, the state re-instated the CHIP program. Looking forward however, the state will face a projected $3.1 billion budget shortfall in the coming fiscal year, meaning these programs will face funding cuts in the future.
The forum, Why Arizona Needs to Focus on Kids, will bring together health care providers, advocates, politicians and community members to discuss the current needs of children and to strategize on ways to improve the political dialogue and improve the outlook for critical safety net programs in Arizona.