Senate Passes Medicaid Buy-In Measure for Disabled Children
The Senate on Thursday passed by voice vote a bill (S 622) that would expand Medicaid coverage to "hundreds of thousands" of middle-income families with disabled children, the AP/Columbia State reports (Sherman, AP/Columbia State, 5/7). The Family Opportunity Act, sponsored by Senate Finance Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), would allow families with annual incomes up to 250% of the federal poverty level, or $47,125 for a family of four, to buy into Medicaid for their disabled children (California Healthline, 2/11). Medicaid offers more comprehensive benefits than most private health plans, and supporters of the bill say that many families with disabled children are currently forced to turn down pay raises and take other steps to keep their income low enough to maintain Medicaid eligibility. Under the bill, states would charge families premiums for Medicaid coverage on a sliding scale and would have discretion in how they operate the program (Schuler, CQ Today, 5/6). Private insurance and Medicaid premiums combined could not exceed 7.5% of family income (Rovner, CongressDaily, 5/6). The bill, which would cost approximately $7 billion over 10 years, also would establish information centers to help families with disabled children obtain information about services and programs available to them. CQ Today reports that a House companion measure (HR 1811) sponsored by Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) is "likely to face opposition from fiscal conservatives" who are concerned about expanding Medicaid. Grassley plans to talk to House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) about bringing the House bill to a floor vote (CQ Today, 5/6).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.