Arizona: CMS approves expansion of CHIP coverage to 9,700 more children & to let qualifying parents be paid caregivers


Via the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS):

February 16: CMS approved coverage expansions in Arizona through an amendmentof two policies, “Parents as Paid Caregivers” (PPCG) and “KidsCare Expansion." Approval of the Parents as Paid Caregivers amendment will allow the state to continue to reimburse legally responsible parents for providing direct care to their minor children, helping to mitigate the direct care worker shortage and improve access to timely, effective care in the home and community.

Additionally, the KidsCare Expansion amendment will allow the state to increase the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) eligibility thresholds from 200% of the federal poverty level (FPL) to 225% of the FPL. Expanding KidsCare is expected to improve the rate of child health insurance coverage, increase access to affordable health care coverage, decrease costs by addressing health needs earlier, when care is less expensive, and provide financial relief for families. The demonstration will remain in effect until September 30, 2027.

In fact, the approval itself could potentially extend CHIP coverage up to 300% FPL if the state legislature approves doing so:

Additionally, with this approval, the AHCCCS will have the authority to raise the CHIP eligibility thresholds from 200 up to and including 225 percent of the FPL, therefore expanding eligibility under KidsCare. Further, this amendment provides Arizona with the flexibility to increase KidsCare eligibility up to 300 percent of the FPL, subject to approval by the state legislature, without the submission of a formal amendment, as long as the state complies with public notice and tribal consultation processes, as specified under 42 CFR 431.408, and provides CMS with at least 60 days’ notice prior to implementation. The state will only be allowed to make upward adjustments to the eligibility threshold, up to and including 300 percent of the FPL, subject to approval by the state legislature. The state is required to comply with all existing rules for operating within the available CHIP allotment and, as necessary, requesting an increase in allotment. Any reduction in eligibility limit would require submission of a formal amendment as described in the STCs.

Arizona estimates that an additional 9,700 children under age 19 will be eligible for KidsCare with this expansion. This request is in alignment with Arizona Senate Bill 1726, which provided state authority to expand KidsCare eligibility to include individuals with income at or below 225 percent of the FPL. Approval of this demonstration amendment is likely to promote the objectives of the CHIP program by expanding coverage to low-income children. CMS’s approval of this amendment is subject to the limitations specified in the attached waiver and expenditure authorities, STCs, and any supplemental attachments defining the nature, character, and extent of federal involvement in this project.