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News Release

Labor And HHS Departments Send Report On Enforcing Child Medical Support Orders To Congress

Archived News Release — Caution: Information may be out of date.

The U.S. Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services today forwarded to Congress a report submitted to the secretaries by the Medical Child Support Working Group, a federal advisory committee jointly established under the Child Support Performance and Incentive Act of 1998. The report, "Twenty-One Million Children's Health: Our Shared Responsibility," includes 76 recommendations that attempt to expand health coverage for children eligible for child support enforcement services.

The Working Group was made up of a diverse membership including representatives of the two departments, children's advocacy organizations, directors of state child support enforcement and Medicaid agencies, employers, and group health plans' sponsors and administrators. The report to the secretaries responds to the Working Group's statutory mandate to identify and provide recommendations that address barriers to the effective enforcement of medical support by state child support enforcement agencies.

Medical support orders, which provide for children's health care coverage, may require non-custodial parents to include their children under their employment-based health insurance coverage. They may be established and enforced with the help of state child support enforcement agencies.

Labor Secretary Alexis M. Herman said that the Working Group's report represents "an effort to ensure that we take responsibility for one of our nation's greatest resources, our children." "The report provides helpful recommendations to ensure that children receive critical health care coverage through every possible means including parents' private insurance or federal/state programs such as Medicaid or the State Child Health Insurance Program (SCHIP)," HHS Secretary Donna E. Shalala noted.

Secretaries Herman and Shalala said that they are looking forward to working with Congress to develop solutions to ensure more American children will have access to health care coverage they need and deserve.

Copies of the 260-page report as well as Questions and Answers regarding its findings will be posted on the HHS web site.

Since 1985, state child support agencies have been required to seek health care coverage as part of child support orders. State agencies are also required to pursue private health care coverage when such coverage is available through a non-custodial parent at a reasonable cost. However, Census Bureau figures indicate that only about 41 percent of parents awarded child support payments had health insurance included in the award. The pattern appears to have changed little since 1991. It is estimated some three million of the 21 million children currently eligible for child support enforcement services are without any health care coverage.

U.S. Department of Labor news releases are accessible on the Internet. The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format upon request (large print, Braille, audio tape or disc) from the Central Office for Assistive Services and Technology. Please specify which news release when placing your request. Call 202.693.7773 or TTY 202.693.7775.

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

Employee Benefits Security Administration
August 14, 2000
Release Number