Bill Would Enroll Newborns in National Health Program
Sen. John Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) introduced legislation yesterday that would "automatically enroll" all newborns into a national health care plan, the Denver Rocky Mountain News reports. Called the MediKids Health Insurance Act of 2001, the program would cover every child born after 2002 until age 23. Although the program would begin in 2003, parents could opt for private insurance or Medicaid or state CHIP programs if they meet income requirements. Designed to provide coverage to the more than nine million uninsured children in the country, the program would be phased in to cover young adults through age 22 by 2007. Parents would pay a premium for the program as part of their income taxes, but those who meet certain federal poverty standards would be exempt. Rockefeller said, "This legislation ensures that not one child in America will grow up without access to health care." Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) said she supported the bill's "concept," but questioned how the program would be funded. "Given the fact that President Bush has pretty much frozen the entire budget ... I think one of the casualties, unfortunately, will be additional funding for kids' health." Richard Coorsh, a spokesperson for the Health Insurance Association of America, said, "Creating a new federal program that would cover all 72 million U.S. children would be prohibitively expensive and politically impossible" (Perrault, Denver Rocky Mountain News, 5/4).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.