The Legislature finds:
(1) That there exists a number of families of low to moderate income without access to affordable health insurance coverage, whose children are denied plan participation because their family income exceeds two hundred percent of the federal poverty level;
(2) That this exclusion imposes a heavy burden on many families by forcing them to elect whether to spend money on their children's health care or for their food, clothing and educational needs;
(3) That a plan should be developed and considered whereby children in families with an income between two hundred and three hundred percent of the federal poverty level would contribute approximately twenty to twenty-five percent of the actual cost of coverage resulting in no additional cost to state government; and
(4) That, while the primary goal of any plan will be the improvement of health care for these children, a successful plan for extending this coverage will benefit the state by improving the economy by allowing parents of these children to spend more for goods and services and by lowering future medical expenditures, uncompensated care and the other long-term adverse economic effects related to having a segment of the adult population which has been deprived of adequate medical care during childhood.
The board is directed to conduct a study of all available means to develop a viable, modified plan to enroll the children of those families having a level of income between two hundred and three hundred percent of the federal poverty level and to consider that such a plan should charge an affordable premium and may be phased in over a two-year period.
The board is further directed to study total program costs related to the implementation of a viable modified plan to expand coverage with the design requiring no additional state dollars and to study the long-term effect on the state budget.
The board is directed to report its findings and recommendations to the Joint Committee on Government and Finance at its monthly meeting of August, 2004.