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Washington D.C. – The United States Departments of Treasury and Health and Human Services both recently released proposed rules on insurance exchanges established through the Affordable Care Act. These rules include simplifying eligibility and enrollment procedures for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and coordination within the exchanges.

Bruce Lesley, President of First Focus, a bipartisan child advocacy organization, released the following statement:

“First Focus commends the premise of the HHS proposed rules and especially supports the enrollment simplifications for families. A simple, streamlined process for families to get their children covered in every state is just what families need and want. With two thirds of the nation’s uninsured children eligible but unenrolled in CHIP and Medicaid, the value of simplifying enrollment procedures and creating a single application for coverage cannot be overstated.

“Furthermore, we look forward to the expanded Medicaid coverage that will be available for all adults up to 133% of poverty. This will allow parents across the country, who have often been excluded from coverage in the past, to benefit from Medicaid’s preventive services and medical coverage. When parents are healthy and have their medical needs met, they are better able to care for their children and keep their kids healthy as well.

“Conversely, we are profoundly disappointed with the preliminary rules from the Treasury Department related to the cost of family coverage and how affordability will be assessed for subsidies. The proposed rule would make the cost of individual employer-offered coverage the basis for determining affordability for a whole family. This would exclude millions of families from eligibility for subsidies in the exchange and reduce the number of children currently covered under family plans. This interpretation of the law is a serious concern and would disproportionately harm children and women. We urge the Treasury Department to reconsider this preliminary rule.

“Throughout the passage of the Affordable Care Act, First Focus worked with lawmakers to ensure that children’s health coverage would be maintained through CHIP and Medicaid. We will continue its work with HHS and Treasury to fine-tune the proposed rules to best serve children and families and ensure coverage that meets their needs.”