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Friday, September 14, 2007

Patrick blasts restrictions on children's health insurance

By Alice Dembner, Globe Staff

Restrictions imposed by the Bush administration on a program that provides health insurance for more than 90,000 children in Massachusetts are "dumb" and should be revoked by President Bush or overturned by Congress, Governor Deval Patrick said this morning.

Patrick said the new rules for the State Children's Health Insurance Program would deny health insurance to thousands of children and hurt the state's effort to provide coverage for all its residents.

"It's a step in the wrong direction and has to be prevented," Patrick said at a news conference at the Martha Eliot Health Center in Jamaica Plain.

At the same event, Senator John Kerry announced that he and Senator Edward M. Kennedy introduced legislation yesterday to overturn the new rules. Prospects for the legislation's passage are unclear, but Kerry pledged that "we are going to get these policies turned around."

Both the Senate and House last month passed bills to expand funding for SCHIP by billions of dollars, but Bush has threatened to veto the expansion.

The new rules are designed to restrict the program to families making up to 250 percent of the federal poverty level, but Massachusetts has extended coverage to those making up to 300 percent.

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