April 13, 2020
To: Legislative District 28 Constituents
From: State Representative Kelli Butler
I hope you and your family are staying safe and staying home to protect your health and the health of everyone in our community.
As the ranking member on the House Health and Human Services Committee, I have always made it a priority to focus on understanding our health system and health insurance options. Now, as we live through this national crisis, it is more apparent than ever that access to quality, affordable healthcare is a critical part of our public policy discussions. There is some good news. If your job situation or insurance coverage has changed recently, especially due to the COVID19 crisis, you may have insurance options you haven’t previously considered.
MEDICAID / AHCCCS
If you’ve lost all or a large part of your income, you may qualify for comprehensive health insurance through the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS), which is our Medicaid program in Arizona. It is important to note, if you lost your job and receive unemployment benefit payments, those payments DO NOT affect your AHCCCS eligibility. The one-time $1,200 federal stimulus payment also will not affect your AHCCCS eligibility. Do not use those payment amounts in calculating your income for purposes of eligibility. Here are examples of income eligibility limits for an adult applying for AHCCCS:
If you have children, they may qualify for our Children’s Health Insurance Program, which is called KidsCare in Arizona. The income eligibility for KidsCare is higher than for adult coverage through AHCCCS – so your children might qualify for KidsCare even if you earn too much to qualify for AHCCCS. Go to www.healthearizonaplus.gov for more information about eligibility for AHCCCS and KidsCare.
AFFORDABLE CARE ACT (ACA) MARKETPLACE
If you previously had health insurance, but LOST your coverage due to job or income changes, you may qualify for a Special Enrollment Period through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace. This Special Enrollment Period is only available to you for 60 days after losing your insurance coverage, or, if you have advance notice, up to 60 days before you lose coverage. Many people who buy individual insurance through the ACA marketplace qualify for subsidies to make the insurance more affordable. For example, a family of four can make up to $100,000 per year and qualify for financial help to make a plan more affordable. Click here for information about income levels that qualify for subsidies.
If you currently have insurance through the ACA marketplace and your income has changed, you should update your application. If your income has been reduced, you may qualify for additional savings.
For more information and personalized help shopping for insurance on the ACA marketplace, contact www.coveraz.org.
COBRA – (acronym for Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act)
If you’ve lost your employer-sponsored health insurance, you may have the option of paying to continue that coverage for yourself and your dependents through COBRA. Check with your employer to learn more. Insurance coverage through COBRA is often quite expensive, so you should also check the ACA marketplace to find out if you qualify for a subsidy to make coverage more affordable.
While you’re considering insurance options, be very cautious. Unfortunately, during the 2019 legislative session, every member of the majority party voted to expand “junk insurance” in Arizona, which has opened the door to many new companies and aggressive marketing tactics. These plans, which can include Short-Term and Association Health Plans, are characterized as “junk insurance” because they can offer very limited benefits and often contain many loopholes and hidden exclusions. A recent investigation found misleading claims, inaccuracies and outright false statements by people selling Short-Term, Limited Duration insurance plans.
I will continue to work on legislation to expand options for quality, affordable insurance in Arizona. I’ve sponsored bills to allow individuals the option to purchase their insurance through our state’s AHCCCS program. I introduced a bill to expand eligibility for children to enroll in our KidsCare program -- Arizona is currently one of the worst states for income eligibility for KidsCare, while we have one of the highest percentages of uninsured children in the nation. Unfortunately, those bills were not assigned to committee or debated in the House this session. I’ve also worked with legislators in both parties to expand AHCCCS coverage for pregnant mothers to allow them to receive dental care during their pregnancy. This year, the bill passed the House with bipartisan support, but did not receive a hearing in the Senate prior to our extended recess.
The current health crisis highlights what we’ve long known -- everyone deserves to have access to quality, affordable care for themselves and for their family. But health isn’t simply an individual concern. When people in our community are sick and unable to receive treatment, we are all at risk. This crisis has given us an opportunity to reflect on our values and to focus on solutions. I am eager to get back to work at the legislature, and hopeful we will use this opportunity to better evaluate the broad range of programs and resources we can use to improve our access to health care.
Take care -
Kelli Butler, State Representative
Legislative District 28