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Medicaid Coverage for Disabled Children Expanded by Senate Committee

A bill (S. 321) that would allow states to offer Medicaid coverage to more families with disabled children was approved, by voice vote, by the Senate Finance Committee on July 11.

Sponsored by Sens. Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Edward Kennedy (D-MA), the Family Opportunity Act would allow families with incomes of up to 250 percent of the poverty level to purchase Medicaid coverage. Currently, Medicaid covers children under the age of six who are living at 133 percent of the poverty level and children age 6-18 who are living at or below 100 percent of poverty. Under the bill, the families would be required to first purchase an employer-provided plan. Medicaid coverage could then be purchased on a sliding scale to supplement the employer-provided plan.

S. 321 also would authorize $10 million in each of FY2003 through FY2007 for the development of family-to-family health information centers. These centers would assist families of children with disabilities to make informed choices about health care.

Sen. Grassley praised the legislation, saying, “No one would have to become impoverished or stay impoverished to secure Medicaid for a child.”

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