Gap found in health care law for children’s coverage

The health care package adopted this week wouldn’t require an insurance company to cover young Alex Lange, even after the national publicity of late last year when he was denied coverage.

Alex, then 4 months old, was rejected for health insurance because his weight placed him in the 99th percentile among children his age.

That, according to federal guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, made Alex ineligible for coverage.

A national spotlight fixed for a time on Alex and Rocky Mountain Health Plans after Grand Junction television newsman Bernie Lange drew attention to the denial.

Rocky Mountain Health Plans quickly reversed its denial, but not before Stephen Colbert of “The Colbert Report” on Comedy Central advised expecting mothers, “Your baby will never be denied health coverage for being too fat or too skinny if you mate with an insurance company CEO.”

Jon Stewart on “The Daily Show,” also on Comedy Central, suggested Alex’s story might never have made broadcast news had his father not been in the business.

President Obama declared last week at George Mason University in Virginia, before the measure passed on Sunday, that “Starting this year, insurance companies will be banned forever from denying coverage to children with pre-existing conditions.”

Not exactly, said Karen Lightfoot, spokeswoman for the House Energy and Commerce Committee, one of the main congressional panels that wrote the bill.

The new law allows insurance companies to refuse new coverage to children until 2014 because of a pre-existing medical problem, Lightfoot told the Associated Press.

The provision is “completely counter-intuitive to what the administration has tried to sell to the people,” Lange said. “I’m hopeful that it will get fixed, but it does seem a little strange that this gap appeared in the first place.”

Rocky Mountain Health Plans is looking closely at the bill, company spokeswoman Kayla Arnesen said.

“A lot about this new legislation will need to be sorted out,” she said.

As to whether Alex remains covered under any circumstance, Arnesen said, “You betcha.”


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