AAF: Obamacare 'Glitch' Puts 2 Million Kids' Coverage at Risk

Tuesday, 24 Jun 2014 05:04 PM

By Cathy Burke

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A "family glitch" in Obamacare could leave nearly 2 million children without healthcare coverage, the conservative policy think tank American Action Forum warned Tuesday.

In a blog post, the think tank noted that although the Affordable Care Act requires employers to offer coverage to their workers, "the administration has interpreted this requirement as applying only to the employee and not extending the same benefits to members of the employee's family."

"If an employee is offered coverage through their place of work, they and their family are no longer eligible for subsidized insurance in the exchange," the post noted. "This flaw in the ACA's design prevents an estimated 1.9 million children from having access to subsidized health insurance through the exchange."

In theory at least, Obamacare makes the popular Children's Health Insurance Program unnecessary, because Obamacare mandates that kids be covered under their parents' health insurance, the blog post said.

CHIP was originally passed by Congress to help families cover their children's health insurance if they make too much to qualify for Medicaid but earn too little to afford health insurance on their own.

"[A]s it turns out, if the program is eliminated, a significant number of children may no longer have access to coverage due to a problem in the ACA known as the 'family glitch'," the blog reported.

In April, about 1,800 families in New Jersey felt the shock of that glitch when they got letters telling them their children would be losing coverage under the Garden State's version of the low-cost coverage plan.

American Action Forum noted that fixing the design flaw "requires either substantial changes to the law itself or a limited reauthorization of CHIP funding." It suggests the latter.

"Because of the loopholes in the ACA, some children will still need CHIP, but any reauthorization of the program should be designed and funded in a way that allows states to meet the needs of their changing CHIP populations, streamlines program operations and maintains beneficiary responsibility," the think tank urged.

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