Lautenberg Measure To Keep New Jersey Children Covered By Health Insurance Passes Key Senate Committee

Lautenberg Measure To Keep New Jersey Children Covered By Health Insurance Passes Key Senate Committee

NJ Sen's Amendment Would Override Illegal Bush Administration Policies That Threatens Health Care of 8,000 Children in New Jersey

Washington - A measure introduced by U.S. Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) designed to make sure 8,000 New Jersey children can have access to health care passed a key Senate committee yesterday. The Lautenberg language is meant to counteract the Bush Administration's so-called "August 17" directive. The measure has the support of Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ).

"President Bush's illegal and misguided policy jeopardizes health care for thousands of New Jersey's children, and it must be stopped. We should be making it easier for children to see a doctor and get the medicine they need to stay healthy, not harder," Senator Frank R. Lautenberg said. "My amendment is critical to protect our families in New Jersey, and we will continue to fight until it becomes law."

"Over the past year, we've stood up time and time again in the face of cold-hearted attacks that target children's health coverage in high-cost of living states like ours," said Senator Menendez. "Especially in these times when so many are struggling to make ends meet, we cannot take away coverage from those who fall in the gap between Medicaid and private health insurance. Senator Lautenberg's work in the Appropriations Committee is a big victory for the children of New Jersey, and we will stand up together to keep his amendment in the bill when it comes to the Senate floor."

Lautenberg inserted his language into a section of the Emergency Supplemental that also includes critical domestic priorities such as a new G.I. bill for America's veterans and an extension of unemployment benefits. The Supplemental bill was marked up by the Senate Appropriations committee, of which Lautenberg is a member. It will next be considered on the Senate floor, possibly as early as next week.

New Jersey has thousands of children enrolled in the state's Family Care program whose coverage would is threatened by the Bush Administration's August 17 directive. The Bush regulation would make it harder for states to continue covering children above 250 percent of the poverty level. In New Jersey, the eligibility level is up to 350 percent. The Government Accountability Office and Congressional Research Service have both issued reports finding that the Bush Administration violated federal law when they issued the regulation.

The Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provides health insurance for low income children whose parents cannot afford to buy private insurance and earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid. This program provides coverage to 6 million children across the nation.

Last year, President Bush vetoed a bill to extend CHIP despite bipartisan support from Congress. The bill would have made health insurance available to more children in New Jersey and across the nation.

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