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Lautenberg, Brown, Schwartz, Degette, Ros-Lehtinen Introduce Bill To Protect Health Coverage For Children With Chronic Medical Conditions

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Sens. Frank R. Lautenberg and Sherrod Brown, and Representatives Allyson Schwartz, Diana DeGette and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen today introduced a bill to protect health coverage for children with chronic medical conditions. The Children's Health Protection Act of 2009 would help ensure that children suffering from debilitating and life threatening illnesses have access to comprehensive and affordable health care coverage - and would prohibit employers and insurers from imposing pre-existing condition limitations on children before they reach the age of 25.

"Children with chronic medical conditions deserve quality, affordable, reliable health care," said Sen. Lautenberg. "No child should ever be denied health care because of pre-existing conditions. Our bill would help ensure children have the health coverage they need."

"No child should be denied health insurance because of a pre-existing condition," said Brown. "This bill will allow families with sick children to focus on medical care, not medical bills. This bill would prevent insurers from blocking children who need medical care the most."

"Denying health coverage to children that are most in need - those with health conditions or other illnesses - is fundamentally wrong. Our plan, the Children's Health Protection Act, ends a failed policy that has enabled insurance companies to deny millions of children the healthcare they need and deserve. This bill brings us one step closer to meeting our promise of keeping all children as healthy as they can be, by working toward ensuring that every single American child has access to quality, affordable health coverage," Congressman Schwartz said.

"Every child in this country deserves access to quality health care," said U.S. Rep. DeGette, Vice Chair of the Committee on Energy and Commerce. "Congress and the White House got off to a great start by expanding the Children's Health Insurance Program, but gaps still remain. This legislation goes a long way by reaching children who otherwise would have difficulty in accessing our health care system."

"It is unconscionable to deny health insurance to a child with a pre-existing condition, yet this occurs every day to one too many children in our country. This legislation seeks to remedy that by assuring that employers or insurers will not deny coverage to children with a pre-existing condition. Medical care should not be denied in the greatest country on earth, especially to our young ones. I urge my colleagues to support this legislation and do our children right by it," said Rep. Ros-Lehtinen.

"Senators Lautenberg and Brown and Representatives Schwartz and DeGette have taken an important step in protecting chronically ill children at risk of having no health insurance by introducing this legislation," said Nancy Davenport-Ennis, Founder and CEO of NPAF. "NPAF is proud to work with these leaders in any way that we can to help ensure that this vital legislation is enacted and to ensure that children across the nation are protected.

Approximately 20 percent of school-aged children suffer from a chronic disease including cancer, diabetes, asthma and heart disease. These chronic diseases are frequently considered pre-existing conditions for the purposes of health insurance coverage. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 limited when insurance companies could deny children health coverage due to a pre-existing condition. However, a loophole in the law permits an insurance company to limit coverage to a child who goes without health coverage for more than 63 days.

The Children's Health Protection Act of 2009 will close that loophole and prohibit insurers from imposing pre-existing condition limitations on children under the age of 25. This bill is aimed at helping the nine million American children who are uninsured obtain the insurance they need to ensure prompt treatment for their chronic conditions. In addition, it would potentially help millions of children who are at risk for becoming uninsured if their parents lose their job and health insurance in this economic crisis.

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