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April 25, 2002

Governor Bush Signs Bill to Streamline Process for Getting Medical Coverage in Child Support Cases

TALLAHASSEE - Governor Bush signed into law Wednesday a bill that will help streamline the process of arranging for health care coverage for Florida children in child support cases. The bill was sponsored by Sen. Durell Peaden, R-Crestview.

"Through Senate Bill 1272, Governor Bush and the Legislature are helping Florida take advantage of federal laws that are making a difference in the health of children in child support cases, most of whom are from low-income families," said Dr. Jim Zingale, executive director of the Florida Department of Revenue (DOR). "This legislation will put Florida businesses in a position to use a single, nationwide process that lets employers, health plan administrators and parents know what they are required to do to provide health coverage for their children."

National studies have found that children's health risks are lowered if the child has health insurance coverage. In 1996, Congress gave states enhanced powers to require that parents in child support cases paid their share of children's medical coverage costs. However, lack of nationwide standards led to confusion among employers, health care plans and parents about medical support coverage requirements, and denial or delays in coverage in some instances. Legislation adopted by Congress in 1998 led to the creation of a national medical support notice process, which informs employers, health care administrators and parents about what they are required to do to provide medical coverage to children. SB 1272 requires Florida to participate in this national system.

In other provisions, the bill enhances the Department's ability to work with stockbrokers and financial institutions to liquidate assets such as stocks and bonds in cases where parents have failed to support their children as required by child support orders.