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

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

NJ Sen's Amendment Would Override Illegal Bush Administration Policy That Threatens Health Care of 10,000 Children in New Jersey

Washington - A measure introduced by U.S. Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) designed to make sure 10,000 New Jersey children can have access to health care passed the Senate today. 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."

Senator Menendez said: "This is a major victory over the type of cold-hearted and out-of-touch policies that threaten health coverage for children in states like ours. In these times when so many are struggling to make ends meet, we have told the Bush administration that it cannot take away coverage from those who fall in the gap between Medicaid and private health insurance. The House must now step up and match our commitment to these children, and we look forward to working with the New Jersey House delegation to ensure that this provision makes it through. I applaud Senator Lautenberg for getting this amendment into the bill in the first place and was proud to fight side-by-side with him on the Senate floor to ensure its passage."

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 package with the Lautenberg provision must now be sent back to the House of Representatives for consideration and would need to be signed by the President before it becomes law.

New Jersey has thousands of children enrolled in the state's Family Care program whose coverage would be threatened by the Bush Administration's August 17 directive. The Bush regulation would make it harder for states such as New Jersey to continue covering children above 250 percent of the poverty level. 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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