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The Latest: Children's insurance backers rally at Capitol

PHOENIX (AP) — The Latest on an effort to persuade the Arizona Senate to approve renewing a health insurance program for low-income Arizona children (all times local):

12:30 p.m.

Several dozen proponents of a proposal to restore the state's children's health insurance program rallied at the Arizona Capitol to try to persuade the Arizona Senate to approve the plan.

Monday's rally was meant to add political pressure on Senate President Andy Biggs to allow the proposal to advance after weeks of being blocked by the Republican leader. The groups also hope to get Gov. Doug Ducey to advocate for the plan. So far, Ducey hasn't committed to supporting the proposal.

The proposal easily passed the House on March 2.

Republican Rep. Regina Cobb says the program known in Arizona as KidsCare is designed to help the working poor get health care. The federal government is paying for the entire package at least through 2017.

Biggs opposes the program because he's against expanded Medicaid coverage and worries state costs could skyrocket if federal funding is cut.

Arizona froze its KidsCare program in 2010 to save money and is now the only state without an active program. It once covered more than 63,000 children.

3:15 a.m.

Advocates who want the state's children's health insurance program restored plan to rally at the Capitol to try to persuade the Arizona Senate to consider a proposal the House has already approved.

Monday's planned rally will include parents, pediatricians, nurses, children's advocacy and faith and women's groups.

House Bill 2309 passed the House on a 47-12 vote on March 2. But Senate President Andy Biggs has blocked consideration because he opposes the program.

Children whose families earn between 138 and 200 percent of the federal poverty line would gain insurance under the plan.

Arizona froze its KidsCare program in 2010 and is now the only state without an active program. It once covered more than 63,000 children.

The federal government would pick up the full cost at least through 2017.

Associated Press

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