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Adler Calls on Federal Government to Expand Children’s Health Care, Not Restrict It

Senator John H. Adler

Senator will push for legislation urging the Bush administration to repeal new guidelines

TRENTON – Senator John H. Adler announced today that he will introduce a resolution calling on President Bush to reverse his decision to limit the number of children covered under the State Children’s Health insurance Program (SCHIP) stating, “providing health care coverage for every American child should be a national priority.”

“Kids are rarely aware of income brackets or poverty lines. They don’t know what kind of health insurance their parents have, if any at all. But they know when they are sick, a doctor can help them feel better,” said Senator Adler.

New guidelines put into place last month by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services specifies which children will be eligible for coverage under SCHIP and which children will be cut from the program – the new guidelines denies tens of thousands of New Jersey children from access to health care.

“We are at the point where health insurance is so expensive many middle class families can’t even afford coverage for their children. New Jersey has looked to address this by expanding our FamilyCare program, but the new federal guidelines will end those efforts,” added Senator Adler.

Senator Adler will be introducing a resolution into the Senate urging the federal government to reverse this decision and instead look for ways to expand the program to cover even more children nationwide. He pointed to the success seen in the expansion of FamilyCare as a strong argument for increased coverage nationally.

“We are the wealthiest country in the world yet we allow millions of American children go without health insurance,” continued Adler. “New Jersey has taken a step in the right direction by fighting to expand SCHIP and initiating the FamilyCare program. We need the federal government to do their part to ensure that all children have access to affordable and quality healthcare.”

According to a letter released by Dennis Smith, director for the Center for Medicaid and State Operations in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the new guidelines require that states must demonstrate that they’ve enrolled at least 95% of children living in families making less than 200% of the federal poverty level ($41,300) who are eligible for Medicaid or SCHIP before they can expand SCHIP eligibility to children in families with incomes greater than 250% ($51,625) of the federal poverty level.

Senator Adler said the new guidelines will hamper the State’s efforts to provide health care under the FamilyCare program by requiring New Jersey to meet enrollment numbers that will be close to impossible to reach.

Currently, a New Jersey family of four earning less than $72,275, or 350% of the federal poverty level, can qualify for certain benefits under the FamilyCare program.

“All children deserve access to affordable and quality healthcare. There should be no exceptions or qualifications, only confidence that when our children get sick they can see a doctor.” said Adler

Senator Adler said he plans to formally introduce the resolution before the Senate when it reconvenes in November.