The United States needs “universal health care,” Gov. Janet Napolitano said Monday, though she said that doesn’t necessarily mean governmentprovided insurance.
Napolitano told Capitol Media Services every person in the country deserves “access at an affordable rate to a basic health insurance plan.” And she said there needs to be “a government role” in all of that “but not necessarily exclusively government.”
The issue arises as Napolitano and her colleagues in Washington for the National Governors Association meeting are lobbying the White House to extend the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, which insures children of the working poor.
“There seems to be, I think, a tacit agreement that this needs to be handled in such a way that people on the program are not forced off,” Napolitano said.
But Napolitano said she and other governors actually want more federal funding so states can enroll more people in the program.
“There’s a growing consensus among governors, Republican and Democrat alike, that affordable access availability of health insurance, which is a portal to health care, is something we need to have,” she said. “There are a variety of mechanisms to get there.”
At least 30 states are seeking to expand health insurance coverage.
In Arizona, Napolitano plans to enroll more children in KidsCare, the state’s version of the insurance program.
The governor said she has no preconceived notion of what universal health care will look like, but said: “At its most basic, it’s giving everybody access at an affordable rate to a basic health insurance plan.”
The governor is having little luck with plans to enroll more children in KidsCare.
KidsCare provides nearly free insurance to children in families earning more than the federal poverty level — the cutoff for free family health insurance — but less than twice that figure.
That means between $20,000 and $40,000 in annual income for a family of four.
Napolitano wants lawmakers to repeal what she calls a “gag order” prohibiting schools from providing information about the program to youngsters who may be eligible. But she also wants to increase eligibility to three times the poverty level — $60,000 for a family of four.
Sen .Carolyn Allen,R-Scottsdale, has so far been unsuccessful in convincing colleagues to repeal that outreach restriction, though she told Capitol Media Services she hopes to get that language tacked on to some bill.
But Allen was not optimistic about expanding the program to cover the children of those who earn up to three times the federal poverty level.