SAUGERTIES – Two local congressmen and one former member of the House of Representatives joined forces Saturday to voice support for the Healthcare Fairness for Military Families Act.
It’s the latest attempt to correct what former Hudson Valley congressional member Chris Gibson called a loophole and allow all children of active duty and retired military members to stay on their parents’ health insurance until they are 26.
Rep. Pat Ryan, D-18, introduced the bill in the current session. It was handed off to him by fellow Democrat Elaine Luria of Virginia, who did not return to Congress this year.
Under the current law, dependents of active duty and retired military personnel, who receive their health insurance under a program for uniformed services known as TRICARE, adult children can stay on their parents’ policies only until they are 21, or 23 under certain exceptions if they are still in college.
Private insurance plans allow children to stay on their parents’ health care policies until they are 26.
The HFMFA would correct that inequity, and save military families or the adult children themselves from having to spend more for a private insurance policy.
“This is pretty simple,” Ryan said.
One of the first messages of support he got was from Gibson, a Republican who represented a district that stretched from Dutchess County to the Southern Tier from 2011 to 2017 before he decided not to run again. Gibson recalled fighting for a similar bill in 2014-2015.
The current bill already has strong bipartisan support − 66 members of the House of Representatives on both sides of the aisle, according to Ryan. That includes his Republican colleague from the neighboring 19th New York congressional district, Marc Molinaro, who joined Ryan during Saturday’s news conference at the Cedar Grove Fire Department.
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While they say they are finding strong support for the legislation, Ryan and Molinaro could not say for certain if that will be enough to get it passed on its own.
If there is not enough support to pass the act as a stand-alone measure, Ryan said they might try an alternate approach – attaching it to the National Defense Authorization Act, which Congress has to pass every year.
“If we can strong-arm it into a must-pass piece of legislation, we’ll do that,” Molinaro said.
Mike Randall covers breaking news for the Times Herald-Record, Poughkeepsie Journal and The Journal News/lohud. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @mikerandall845.