Scott Brown says daughter insured under health law
Senator Scott Brown, who won office vowing to be the 41st vote to block President Obama’s health care law and who has since voted three times to repeal it, acknowledged Monday that he takes advantage of it to keep his elder daughter on his congressional health insurance plan.
“Of course I do,’’ the Massachusetts Republican told the Globe.
Brown is insuring his daughter Ayla, a professional singer who is 23 years old, under a widely popular provision of the law requiring that family plans cover children up to age 26.
Brown said the extended use of his congressional coverage is not inconsistent with his criticism of the federal law, enacted over his objection after he won a special election in 2010, because the same coverage could be required by individual states.
On the campaign trail this year, Brown has said he still wants to repeal the law, which he argues is inferior to the health care law enacted by Massachusetts in 2006.
“I’ve said right from the beginning, that if there are things that we like, we should take advantage of them and bring them back here to Massachusetts,’’ the senator said.
As to whether the federal law should be repealed or rewritten, Brown replied: “I’ve already voted to repeal it. You know where I stand on this. This isn’t news.’’
His political opponent said that Brown is being hypocritical.
“Senator Scott Brown has gone Washington,’’ said Alethea Harney, spokeswoman for Democrat Elizabeth Warren.
“He says he likes being able to keep his daughter on the family health insurance plan; what he doesn’t say is that he voted to stop other parents from doing the same.’’
“It’s not right,’’ Harney added. “Scott Brown spells health care: H-Y-P-O-C-R-I-S-Y.’’
The US Supreme Court is reviewing the constitutionality of the federal plan.
It, like the Massachusetts law, includes a mandate requiring those who can afford it to purchase coverage. Twenty-six states have sued, saying that violates the Commerce Clause by requiring the public to buy a private product.
A specialist on the Obama plan said that while some states would probably pass their own requirement for coverage extending to age 26 if the federal law is struck down, many would not. It is also unlikely that Congress could unite to pass an alternate means of providing the extended coverage in all states.
“If you’re trying to envision a world without the [Affordable Care Act], where the court overturns the entire law as opposed to some of its provisions, the first big question is, ‘Can a sharply divided Congress agree on anything related to the ACA?’ ’’ said Drew Altman, president of the Kaiser Family Foundation and former human services commissioner in New Jersey.
“Some [states] will try to move forward in some ways, others will not, and some will be in the middle,’’ he said. “It will largely be dictated by their finances.’’
In fact, the Massachusetts law - signed by Mitt Romney, the state’s former governor and now the presumptive Republican presidential nominee - contained an insurance extension provision that was less extensive than the federal plan.
It required that family policies include coverage for up to two years after “loss of dependent status’’ or age 26, whichever occurred first.
Such status can be lost when a child graduates from college, typically around 21 or 22, or marries.
In practical terms, the Massachusetts provision required some companies to cover a child up to age 24.
Brown, while still a state senator, voted to approve the measure.
That provision was superceded on Jan. 1, 2011, by the new requirement in the Obama health care law, which Brown, then a US senator, opposed.
The Obama law extended the coverage cutoff for the children of federal employees from 22 to 26, and in Brown’s case will allow him to keep covering his daughter, who graduated from Boston College two years ago this month.
The former “American Idol’’ contestant has worked as a correspondent for the
Brown’s younger daughter, Arianna, is 21 and graduating after just three years at Syracuse University. She, too, will be able to keep her coverage under the congressional plan through the Obama law.
“I’ve always said that I love covering my daughter until 26 years old,’’ Brown said in an interview conducted after he received the endorsement of Raymond L. Flynn, Boston’s former mayor.
“But the fact is, we can do that here,’’ the senator said. “That’s only one component.
“And we’re doing a lot of what the federal bill does, but we’re not doing it by raising taxes and cutting Medicare and doing all the things.’’
Earlier, during a speech to The New England Council, a probusiness trade group, Brown said the biggest health care challenge is controlling costs. He said that also is best handled at the state level.
“The governor and the Legislature can fix it,’’ he told the group.
“They can work on those things, and if there are parts of the federal plan that we like - like covering your kids to 26 years old - I’ve said it before, we should incorporate that into our plan.’’