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Gov. Lynch: New Hampshire Joins Seven States in Legal Challenge to Sudden Federal Cut in Children's Health Insurance for Working Families

Press Release

Location: Concord, NH

Gov. Lynch: New Hampshire Joins Seven States in Legal Challenge to Sudden Federal Cut in Children's Health Insurance for Working Families

Gov. Lynch announced today that New Hampshire is joining seven other states to pursue a legal challenge to the Bush Administration's sudden change in eligibility requirements for the Children's Health Insurance Program, which jeopardizes health insurance coverage for working New Hampshire families.

New Hampshire will join as an amicus party a legal challenge being filed by New York. Other states participating in the legal challenge are Arizona, California, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey and Washington.

"Hard-working families are caught in a no-win situation - they earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, their employers do not offer coverage, and they cannot afford private coverage. We should be working together to help make affordable, quality health care available to more Americans," Gov. Lynch said. "Instead, with the sudden and arbitrary rule change, the federal government is jeopardizing health care for the children of working families.

"I hope the Administration will do the right thing on its own and abandon its effort to cut health insurance to working families," Gov. Lynch said.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) informed the states of the sudden changes in a letter dated Aug. 17. The changes include new requirements making it more difficult for states to provide health insurance coverage to children whose families earn above 250 percent of the poverty level. The changes include requiring states to prove that they are covering 95 percent of children living below the 250 percent threshold before offering coverage to families above that level. Under the new rules, states are also required to wait a year or more before allowing children to receive coverage, and to require premiums and co-payments similar to private coverage.

"Ensuring the availability of insurance for the children of New Hampshire's working parents is very important. Participating in this lawsuit will enable our State to continue to advocate for the New Hampshire version of SCHIP," Attorney General Kelly A. Ayotte said.

In addition Gov. Lynch - and a bipartisan coalition of governors across the country - are calling on Congress and the White House to pass legislation reauthorizing the Children's Health Insurance Program. The current legislation - which President Bush is threatening to veto - will rollback these onerous new rules.

Gov. Lynch has made it a priority to enroll 10,000 additional children in the Healthy Kids program, which administers SCHIP in New Hampshire, over the next three years. The changes put forth by federal regulators puts that goal in jeopardy.

In August, Gov. Lynch sent a letter to President Bush, urging the president him to reconsider the changes to SCHIP.

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