FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Bergen Kenny
June 26, 2007 Office: 202-255-5206
Congressman Hodes Introduces Bill (H.R. 2851) to Improve Health Coverage for Students
'Michelle's Law' would allow seriously ill or injured college students to take up to one year of medical leave without losing their health insurance
Washington, DC- Congressman Hodes introduced a bill last night to amend the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) to allow seriously ill or injured college students to take up to one year of medical leave without losing their health insurance.
"Michelle's Law is inspired by Michelle Morse," Congressman Hodes said. "Michelle was a full time college student at Plymouth State University when she was diagnosed with colon cancer. Her doctors advised her to cut back on her course load while undergoing chemotherapy, but she could not because she would lose her family's health insurance when she needed it most. Michelle died as she struggled to regain her health while going to school full-time."
"I want to thank Congressman Hodes for moving Michelle's Law forward," AnnMarie Morse, Michelle's mother, said. "This bill will help severely ill and injured students and their families focus on recovery instead of astronomical medical bills."
Currently, students between the ages of 19 and 24 are only eligible to keep their parents' health insurance if they are full-time students. A seriously ill or injured student is left with very few options. He or she is forced either to continue a strenuous full-time class schedule or withdraw and lose healthcare eligibility.
"No one should be forced to carry a full academic load while undergoing chemotherapy," Congressman Hodes said. "We can do better for our students. Michelle's Law allows students to maintain their parents' health insurance for up to one year for a physician-certified severe medical condition."
The bill is based on a New Hampshire law that AnnMarie Morse worked tirelessly to create and pass. The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), the American Heart Association, the National Education Association and the American Diabetes Association fully support this legislation. The bill enjoys bi-partisan support and is co-sponsored by Rep. Mike Castle (R-DE).
Companion legislation has been introduced in the Senate.