Published: Monday October 1, 2007
New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine has made good on his threat to sue the Bush administration for attempting to impose federal income thresholds which he says would exclude thousands of children from eligibility for state health insurance subsidies. Seven other states have filed similar lawsuits.
"The Bush administration has gone beyond its regulatory rights," Corzine said during his announcement of the suit today at New Jersey's East Orange Health Center, according to the Associated Press.
"The lawsuit for New Jersey was filed Monday morning in federal court in Trenton," state Attorney General Anne Milgram told the AP, which reports that Arizona, California, Illinois, Maryland, New Hampshire, New York and Washington have all joined New Jersey in taking their cases to court.
All of the lawsuits are challenging federal attempts to curtail the number of children provided for under each state's version of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), a federal plan designed to provide for the gap in health coverage among families who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, yet still cannot afford insurance privately.
In August, Corzine had written President Bush a letter outlining his concerns about a directive his state had received from the Bush administration which said New Jersey's policy of granting subsidized healthcare for children of families making up to 350 percent above the federal poverty level -- a little more than than $72,000 for a family of four -- could not continue.
"We have provided health coverage to 122,000 children through our successful State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), FamilyCare, and I am deeply concerned about the devastating impact that this misguided policy will have on our efforts to address the growing problem of the uninsured," Corzine's letter read.
"I ask you to reconsider your position given the critical importance of this issue," Corzine continued, warning that he was "prepared, if necessary, to pursue legal action to further the goal of protecting our most vulnerable children."
"This is not living high-on-the-hog," Corzine told reporters today of his state's current threshold for healthcare eligibility for children. "It is a real stretch for individuals."
The lawsuits come as President Bush threatens to veto new legislation passed by Congress that would expand the SCHIP program by $35 billion and grant four million children medical coverage, measures that would effectively make the lawsuits moot.
“SCHIP is an unqualified bipartisan success in New Jersey and in states across the nation, and the Bush Administration’s determination to pursue a course of action that will harm our children’s health is incomprehensible,” Governor Corzine said in a press release.
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