01.28.15

SCHUMER: THOUSANDS OF CHILDREN OF SEVERELY DISABLED VETS ARE UNFAIRLY KICKED OFF THEIR VA HEALTH PLAN AT AGE 18, WHEN OTHER CHILDREN CAN STAY ON PARENTS’ PLANS UNTIL AGE 26 – SCHUMER PUSHES NEW BILL TO ENSURE VETS’ KIDS GET SAME HEALTH CARE BENEFITS AS EVERYONE ELSE

Over 13,000 NYers Are Enrolled in CHAMPVA Health Plan, Which Is Available for Spouses & Children of Severely Disabled Vets – Unlike All Other Health Insurance Plans, Which Let Children Stay On A Parents’ Plan Until Age 26, CHAMPVA Does Not

Schumer Pushes Bipartisan Legislation That Will Make Easy Fix to CHAMPVA Rules & Make Adult Children Eligible for Coverage Until Age 26 – Would Bring CHAMPVA In Line With Private Insurance Policies & Give Vets’ Kids Same Protections as Other Adult Children; Similar Fix Was Recently Made To TRICARE

 

Schumer: The Children Of Vets Who Made The Greatest Sacrifice Should Receive At Least the Same Health Care Benefits as Everyone Else

 

Today, on a conference call with reporters, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer pushed bi-partisan legislation that would ensure children of severely disabled veterans are able to stay on their VA-sponsored health insurance plan – CHAMPVA – until age 26, which is a benefit offered to dependent adult children on private health insurance plans but not to those who receive CHAMPVA. Schumer explained that over 13,000 New Yorkers are enrolled in CHAMPVA, but due to outdated CHAMPVA rules, adult children get kicked off the plan at age 18 if they are not full-time students and then at age 23 regardless of enrollment status. Schumer said that it is unfair to our military families – especially to the children of those who have made the greatest sacrifice – that they are not able to keep adult children on their health insurance plan as long as everyone else. Schumer announced that he will be pushing legislation to right this wrong and raise the maximum age of coverage under CHAMPVA to 26, bringing it in line with private insurance policies. Schumer noted that TRICARE, an insurance plan for military personnel and their families, had a similar flaw that was recently fixed through similar legislation.

“It is agonizing to think that, right now, the only children not being afforded the benefit of extended health care coverage to the age of 26 are those whose parents sacrificed the most for our country. It makes absolutely no sense that the CHAMPVA health insurance program, which covers families of veterans with disabilities, is more restrictive than what is available to everyone else. It is only fair that the children of our veterans who have made the greatest sacrifice and suffered tremendous hardship are eligible for health care coverage under their parents’ plan in the same way as their peers. That is why I am working with my colleagues in Congress to right this horrible wrong, and simply bring this VA health program in line with the private sector health plans already in place,” said Schumer. “Our veterans bravely protected our nation, and now it is our turn to protect them and their families in exchange for their incredible service. This is a matter of fairness and national responsibility, something I would hope members from both sides of the aisle will recognize.”

Schumer explained that to be eligible for the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA), one must be the spouse or child of a veteran who has been rated permanently and totally disabled for a service-connected disability by a VA regional office, the surviving spouse or child of a veteran who died from a VA-rated service-connected disability, or the surviving spouse or child of a veteran who was at the time of death rated permanently and totally disabled. Schumer explained that, under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a child may stay on their parent’s health insurance plan until age 26, but children who are CHAMPVA beneficiaries cannot. Schumer said this is due to an outdated VA policy, which stipulates that beneficiaries lose their eligibility for coverage at the age of 23, if not before. In fact, Schumer said, many adult children get kicked off the plan at age 18 unless they are full-time students at an accredited school.

The ability to stay on a parent’s health insurance plan until the age of 26 is a benefit offered to dependent adult children on private health insurance plans, but not to those who receive CHAMPVA. That is why Schumer is pushing bi-partisan legislation that would ensure these children of severely disabled or deceased veterans are treated fairly and equally. Schumer said raising the maximum age of coverage under CHAMPVA to 26 would bring the VA’s policies in line with private insurance policies.

This bill, which Schumer will co-sponsor, is called the CHAMPVA Children’s Care Protection Act of 2015. The bill was introduced by Jon Tester (D-MT), and has bi-partisan support, with Patty Murray (D-WA), Dean Heller (R-NV), and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) as co-sponsors. Schumer said that the passage of this legislation would ensure all CHAMPVA recipients, regardless of their type of coverage, student enrollment status, or marital status, would be eligible for health coverage under their parents’ plan until age 26, just like their peers. Schumer said he hopes this easy fix will enjoy wide bipartisan support.

Schumer explained that over 13,000 New Yorkers are currently enrolled in CHAMPVA, meaning thousands of children of severely disabled veterans are unfairly kicked off their VA health plan at the age of 18 each year. On the call, Schumer detailed the approximate number of CHAMPVA enrollees in each region around the state:

  • In the Capital Region, there are 991 CHAMPVA recipients.
  • In Western New York, there are 2,316 CHAMPVA recipients.
  • In the Rochester-Finger Lakes, there are 1,222 CHAMPVA recipients.
  • In Central New York, there are 1,425 CHAMPVA recipients.
  • In the Southern Tier, there are 1,254 CHAMPVA recipients.
  • In the Hudson Valley, there are 1,243 CHAMPVA recipients.
  • In the North Country, there are 958 CHAMPVA recipients.
  • On Long Island, there are 1,375 CHAMPVA recipients.

 

Schumer said that it is unfair to our military families that they are not able to keep adult children on their health insurance plan as long as people who have private health insurance plans, particularly when one parent is severely disabled and therefor unable to work and obtain health insurance through an employer. Schumer said this bill is similar to a law passed in January 2011 that increased the maximum age a child can stay on a parent’s TRICARE health plan to 26, bringing it on par with the private sector under the Affordable Care Act. While CHAMPVA is a Department of Veterans Affairs program, TRICARE is a regionally managed health care program for active duty and retired members of the uniformed services, their families, and survivors.

 

Schumer said veteran groups around the country, including the Paralyzed Veterans of America and the Military Officers Association, support this bill.

 

“MOAA strongly supports VA-sponsored health coverage for eligible adult children of CHAMPVA beneficiaries,” said retired Vice Admiral Norb Ryan, President of the Military Officers Association of America. “Such coverage is mandated in law to be made available for every other qualifying adult child across the nation and only a technical adjustment to the VA statute is needed to extend it to the grown kids of our nation's heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.”

 

“This legislation is critical to ensure that dependent children of severely disabled veterans are afforded the same health care protection as all other children,” said Carl Blake, Associate Executive Director for the Paralyzed Veterans of America. “It is simply unacceptable that the only children who do not have the benefit of extended health care coverage are those children of the men and women who have sacrificed the greatest.”

 

“Our veteran families are facing the same challenges as every other American family and the struggle to provide health care for their loved ones is no different,” says Todd Baxter, Executive Director of Veterans Outreach Center, Inc., in Rochester. “We support Senator Schumer's effort to bring CHAMPVA qualifications in line with current insurance standards which would give our disabled American heroes' the added security of knowing that their adult children, who are often working to support the family in light of their parent's service connected disability, will be covered when it matters most.”

 

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