P.O. Box 12068, State Capitol
Austin, Texas 78711
Tel. (512) 463-0112
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 30, 2009
AUSTIN — The Senate Committee on State Affairs today approved legislation by State Senator Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, establishing a health insurance pool for children in the child support system. SB 66, which passed unanimously, moves to the full Senate for further consideration.
"This legislation will enhance the state's ongoing effort to connect more Texas children to health insurance," Senator Nelson said. "By re-directing 'cash medical support' dollars into this health care pool, we are creating an option for parents who do not qualify for government-funded health care, yet have no health insurance available through their employers."
Federal law requires parents in the child support system to provide health coverage for their children. If no coverage is available to either parent, a judge typically orders the non-custodial parent to pay cash medical support to the custodial parent. SB 66:
- Authorizes the Office of Attorney General, through a competitive bid process, to establish an insurance pool for children in the child support system;
- Allows judges, in lieu of cash medical support, to direct uninsured children into the health pool as part of a custody order;
- Clarifies that courts may not direct children into the plan if premium costs exceed 9 percent of the non-custodial parent's income.
- Clarifies that the creation of this pool does not preclude enrollment of eligible children into CHIP; and
- Clarifies that enrollment in the pool does not prevent later enrollment in an insurance plan that becomes available to parents.
The Legislative Budget Board has determined that there is no cost to the state associated with this bill. The Office of Attorney General estimates that approximately 200,000 children who currently lack health insurance will be covered under this legislation.