New Law Covers Dependent Students

A new law was signed by President Bush in October that requires health plans to continue coverage for certain dependent children who take a medically necessary leave of absence from a post-secondary education institution.

NASW was a supporter of Michelle's Law (H.R. 2851, S. 400) and worked with organizers in cancer and education communities to advocate for passage of the bill, said Asua Ofosu, NASW senior government relations associate. "We've supported this legislation because of our long-held belief that everyone should have access to necessary medical care," she said.

The law, originally sponsored by U.S. Rep Paul Hodes (D-N.H.) is named after Michelle Morse. She was a student at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire when she found out that she had colon cancer in late 2003.

Since her insurance was tied to the fact that she was a full-time student, Morse was unable to leave school and was forced to continue taking classes while receiving therapy. She graduated in May of 2005, but died that November.

Michelle's Law prohibits group health plans from terminating the coverage of dependent full-time students due to a medically necessary, as documented and certified by a physician, leave of absence from a postsecondary educational institution that causes the child to lose full-time status.