Menendez Successfully Adds Child-Only Insurance Plan Option In Finance Health Reform Bill

Menendez Successfully Adds Child-Only Insurance Plan Option In Finance Health Reform Bill

New health insurance exchange would include children-only plans for families that could not otherwise afford insurance

Washington - In the U.S. Senate Finance Committee's markup of its health insurance reform bill, U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) has gained inclusion of his amendment to add child-only health plans to a new insurance exchange. The creation of insurance plans that are just for children would help ensure that children have coverage in many family situations that are unique because of economic reasons or otherwise. The amendment would provide a potentially more affordable option for these chidren in the exchange. Without this option, children might have been forced to purchase adult insurance or forgo health coverage altogether.

"Our children are our nation's most precious and vulnerable population, and they should not have to go without health coverage because of economic circumstances over which they have no control," said Menendez. "We need to think about children from families who might not otherwise be able to afford coverage, about children aging out of the foster care system or growing up with their grandparents, and about children with parents whose employers do not offer dependent coverage. These children deserve every opportunity to reach their potential, and that includes having the coverage to ensure a healthy childhood."

As the legislation is currently written, in order for children to access Children's Health Insurance Program benefits, they must first be enrolled in private health coverage. This amendment helps enusre that coverage.

Also, as the legislation is currently written, tax credit and subsidy determinations are made using taxpayer information. Because of that, even if a child could access a child-only policy in the Exchange, it is unclear how children would qualify for the tax credit since they do not file income tax returns. The amendment would address this issue by directing the HHS Secretary to determine whether alternative means, such as direct subsidies to the exchanges, are necessary to provide support for the purchase of such coverage for qualified children.