After six years without it, about 30,000 children in Arizona will once again have access to affordable, high quality health care coverage. Late last week, in an exciting turn of events, Arizona’s Legislature pushed through a measure to reinstate KidsCare, the state’s Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). And on May 6, 2016, Arizona’s Governor Doug Ducey signed the bill into law.
Given CHIP’s robust history of bipartisan support, Arizona’s refusal to support CHIP confounded many. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, the CHIP program in Arizona would have been effectively free to the state with a 100 percent federal match.
So what happened to shift the tides of Arizona state politics in favor of children? Over the past year, children’s health advocates and their partners came together under the leadership of the Children’s Action Alliance as the Cover Kids Coalition. Their goal was to convince Gov. Ducey and the Arizona Legislature to reinstate KidsCare and reopen the door to coverage for 30,000 Arizona children. The win was, at least in part, the result of a year of activation of the full system of advocacy in the state, centered on a robust and nimble campaign. Advocates engaged in wide array of activities, including:
- Coalition Building. Advocates built a coalition with a broad base of support across a diverse range of stakeholders including state chapters of the National Council of La Raza, AARP and March of Dimes, hospitals and hospital associations, health and human service providers, Chambers of Commerce, and community-based organizations.
- Policy Analysis and Advocacy. They conducted thoughtful analysis of the benefits of KidsCare and leveraged this analysis to identify, educate and build up legislative champions and to create new windows of opportunity for legislators to support the program in the face of challenging political dynamics.
- Strategic Communications. They built up a base of support through paid and earned media, a strong social media presence and stories of affected children and families.
- Grassroots Organizing. They activated grassroots supporters through a variety of strategies – they put out calls to action through social media and email, engaged coalition partners to activate their grassroots networks and secured funding to run a patch-through call campaign to connect constituents to targeted elected officials at just the right time to drive the campaign over the finish line.
As a technical assistance partner, we at Community Catalyst were proud to support them throughout the campaign. We congratulate the Cover Kids Coalition in Arizona on their hard work and dedication to children across their state, which has paid off with this tremendous victory. This is a win not just for Arizona, but for all the children and families across the country who rely on CHIP for affordable, high quality health care.