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News Release


Archived News Release — Caution: Information may be out of date.

Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala and Labor Secretary Alexis M. Herman today announced formation of the Medical Child Support Group to study and provide recommendations on how to improve the enforcement of medical support obligations for children.

The working group was established by the Child Support Performance and Incentive Act of 1998.

“ Today there are still too many children who are without medical insurance because non- custodial parents are not providing what they should,” Secretary Shalala said. “We’re confident this working group will suggest concrete steps to ensure effective enforcement of medical support.”

Secretary Herman said, “The mandate for this working group is to analyze the problem and propose solutions. These are the important first steps to increasing health care coverage for children.”

Medical support orders require non-custodial partents to include their children under the parent’s health insurance coverage. The orders are established and enforced by the state child support enforcement agencies.

The working group will submit a report to the Secretaries of Labor and Health and Human Services by January 2000, recommending measures to improve enforcement of medical support. The Secretaries will subsequently submit a report to Congress with recommendations on medical support legislation. The group also will assess the National Medical Support Notice, which is to be issued under interim regulations later this year. The notice will enable state agencies to inform employers about their need to enroll a non-custodial parent's child in employer-provided health care.

“As the medical support system improves, we will coordinate with the Clinton Administration’s Medicaid outreach and Childrens Health Insurance Program (CHIP) initiative to maximize coverage of the more than 10 million uninsured children in our country,” Shalala added.

In addition, the working group is expected to study measures that establish a non-custodial parent’s responsibility to share the cost of premiums, co-payments, deductibles or payments for service not covered under a child’s existing health care coverage. Other issues to be discussed include the priority of medical support withholding obligations.

Since taking office, the Clinton Administration has made child support enforcement a high priority, resulting in a record $14.4 billion in estimated collections for fiscal year 1998, an 80 percent increase from 1992. Paternity establishment rose to nearly 1.3 million in 1997, an increase of over 250 percent, from 516,000 in 1992. The new child support enforcement measures included in the new welfare reform law are projected to increase collections by billions over the next 10 years.

Named by the Secretaries to co-chair the working group are David Grey Ross, commissioner of HHS’ Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) and Robert Doyle, director of the Office of Regulations and Interpretations at Labor’s Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration (PWBA). PWBA administers the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), which oversees approximately 2.6 million health benefit plans provided by private sector employers.

Also named to the working group from HHS are Paul Legler, deputy commissioner of OCSE; Rachel Block, deputy director, Center for Medicaid and State Operations from the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) and Linda Mellgren, in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation from the Office of the Secretary. The Labor Department’s other representatives are David Lurie, also in the Office of Regulations and Interpretations at PWBA, and Susan Rees, a staff attorney, Plan Benefits Security Division, Office of the Solicitor.

The working group was created under the rules governing the Federal Advisory Committee Act, and all meetings of the full committee will be public. The first meeting of the group is from March 3 to 5.

Other members of the working group and the categories they represent are:

State IV-D Directors and Medical Support Programs:

Sallie H. Hunt, commissioner, Bureau of Child Support Enforcement, Health and Human Resources, West Virginia
Richard Harris, director, Division of Child Support Enforcement, Department of Human Services,
Lee Sapienza, director, Program Operations Unit, Office of Child Support Enforcement,
Department of Social Services, New York
Gaye McQueen, child support enforcement officer, Department of Social and Human Services,
Washington State.

State Medicaid Directors:

Mary Fontaine, director, Benefit Coordination & Recoveries, Medicaid, Massachusetts
Kay Keeshan, director, Third-Party Division, Medicaid, Alabama
Robert Stampfly, director, Managed Care Support Division, Michigan

Employers and Human Resource and Payroll Professionals:

Anthony Knettel, the ERISA Industry Committee
Cornelia Gamlen, Society for Human Resource Management
Rita Zeidner, American Payroll Association
Theodore Earl, John Hancock, Inc.

Administrators and Sponsors of Group Health Plans:

Elizabeth Ysla Leight, Society of Professional Benefit Administrators
Howard Bard, National Coordinating Committee for Multiemployer Plans
Terry Humo, Association of Private Pension and Welfare Plans
Lela Foremen, Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO)
Nell Hennessy, American Bar Association (ABA), Tax Section

Child Advocacy Organizations:

Nancy Ebb, Children’s Defense Fund
Paula Roberts, Center for Law and Social Policy
B. Ann Fallon, attorney-at-law
S. Kay Farley, National Center for State Courts
Jeffrey Johnson, National Center for Strategic Non-Profit Planning & Community Leadership
Kristina Firvada, National Women’s Law Center

Organizations Representing State Child Support Programs:

Kelly D. Thompson, National Child Support Enforcement Association.

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3TDD phone 1-800-326-2577.

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Archived News Release — Caution: Information may be out of date.

Contact Name: Sharon Morrissey
Phone Number: (202) 219-8921

Employee Benefits Security Administration
March 3, 1999
Release Number
USDL 99-19