State Insurance Mandate Excludes Children
A Massachusetts law that requires state residents to maintain health insurance coverage includes loopholes that exempt children, undocumented immigrants and some workers from the requirement, the Boston Globe reports.
The law expands eligibility for Medicaid to children in households with annual incomes of as much as 300% of the federal poverty level, but it requires only residents ages 18 and over to maintain health insurance coverage.
The Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services has requested that the Legislature adopt "technical corrections" to the law, including modifications that would extend the insurance mandate to children.
Officials for the administration of Gov. Mitt Romney (R) said the exclusion was an error.
John Holahan, a health policy analyst at the Urban Institute, estimates that about 5% of Massachusetts children are uninsured, or about 78,000 children.
The Globe reports that undocumented immigrants comprise one of the largest groups that some health care advocates say could be excluded from the mandate.
According to Massachusetts Health and Human Services Secretary Tim Murphy and some health care advocates, undocumented immigrants are ineligible for a subsidized insurance program that receives federal funds. Federal funds in most cases cannot be used to provide health care services to undocumented immigrants.
In addition, state residents will be ineligible for health plans offered by the state if they work for a company with more than 50 employees that offers health insurance benefits. According to the Globe, some state-offered plans likely will cost less than some employer-sponsored coverage options (Kowalczyk, Boston Globe, 10/2).