Senate Approves Family Opportunity Act
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
May 6, 2004
WASHINGTON, DC--With a voice vote, the U.S. Senate on Thursday passed the Family Opportunity Act of 2003 which would make it easier for families that have children with disabilities to receive Medicaid benefits without being forced into poverty.
S. 622, also known as the "Dylan Lee James Act" received bi-partisan support. Sponsored by Senators Charles Grassley, Edward Kennedy and Max Baucus, the bill would amend Title XIX of the federal Social Security Act, to give states the option of letting such families buy into Medicaid on a sliding scale, based on their income.
Currently, families often lose Medicaid coverage for their children unless if they are very poor, or turn over custody of their children to the state.
"Many parents of disabled children have to drop out of the workforce or keep themselves in a low-paying job just to remain eligible for Medicaid. In effect, the government is forcing parents to choose between near-poverty and their children's health care," said Senator Grassley.
Senator Kennedy said, "To obtain vital health services for their children, families are being forced to become poor, stay poor, or to do the unthinkable -- put their children in institutions or even give up custody of their children -- all so their children can qualify for the health coverage available under Medicaid."
The measure's companion piece, H.R. 1811, still must be approved by the U.S. House of Representatives.
Dylan Lee James Family Opportunity Act of 2003 (U.S. Congress)