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Obama Scrambles to Patch Kids' Health Gap

Extent of 'pre-existing exclusion' in new health law unclear
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 24, 2010 5:47 AM CDT

(Newser) – The Obama administration is scrambling to fix a potential problem with a much-touted benefit of its new health care law: a gap in coverage improvements for children in poor health. Under the new law, insurance companies still would be able to refuse new coverage to children because of a pre-existing medical problem, say reps for the congressional panels that authored the legislation, with full protection for children not coming until 2014.

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The Obama administration interprets the law—which does include a safeguard for already covered children that prevents insurers from refusing to pay for treating a particular illness—to mean that kids can't be denied coverage, as the president has said repeatedly. The White House said yesterday that Kathleen Sebelius will solve the problem by issuing "regulations next month making it clear that the term 'pre-existing exclusion' applies to both a child's access to a plan and his or her benefits once he or she is in the plan for all plans newly sold in this country six months from today." (Read more children's health care stories.)

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