Act Would Increase Medicaid Coverage of Disabled Children
On Oct. 23, the Washington Post Metro section profiled Melissa Arnold, a mother of two living in Ellicott City, Md., who refuses pay raises in an attempt to stay "poor" so that her younger, disabled son can retain Medicaid coverage. According to the Post, Arnold's "plight" is shared by many working families who "struggle financially and sometimes even send their seriously disabled children away to qualify for Medicaid," which offers services often denied by private insurers. Sixty-four percent of families with "severely disabled children ... are turning down jobs, raises and overtime pay and not saving money so that their children can stay eligible for Medicaid under its strict income limits," according to a recent study from Brandeis University and the disability advocacy group Family Voices. A bill ( S. 2274) known as the Family Opportunity Act would change that by allowing families with disabled children and incomes up to $51,150 to receive Medicaid coverage after paying limited premiums. The bill would allow families to supplement their private insurance, adding between 300,000 and 400,000 disabled children to Medicaid. Medicaid now covers 847,000 disabled children. The bill's sponsor, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), said, "It's ludicrous to have a health care policy that wants people to be non-taxpaying citizens in order to qualify for the (Medicaid) program. It's not common sense to make families impoverished." President Clinton and more than three-quarters of the Senate support the $2.5 billion, five-year measure. Grassley's bill now is stalled in committee (DeFord, Washington Post, 10/23).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.