Oct 04, 2007

Vetoed SCHIP Bill Included FMLA Changes

justabill.jpgYesterday, President Bush vetoed a bill to reauthorize and expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), which gives funding to the states so they can provide health insurance for children who would not be covered otherwise. Now the fight moves back to Congress, where sponsors of the bill are trying to line up the necessary votes to override the President's veto.

The debate is extremely heated, with opponents of the bill claiming it would lead to socialized medicine and supporters claiming that anyone who votes against it doesn't care about poor children. Lost in the rhetoric are some of the other provisions tucked into the bill, including a couple that would expand the FMLA and create a new leave right for those caring for injured servicemembers.

Added via amendment by Senators (and presidential contenders) Dodd and Clinton, the Support for Injured Servicemenbers Act would allow family members to take up to six months off work to care for an injured servicemenber, with all of the benefits continuation and job reinstatement rights provided by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

A second provision, the Military Family Job Protection Act, would prohibit discrimination against family members who take up to a year off to care for a recovering servicemember. Employers may not deny an employee who takes such leave retention, promotion, or any other job benefit based on the employee's absence from work. (You can read these provisions at the website of the Library of Congress. Search for the final version of House Resolution 976, the Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2007; the leave provisions are in Sections 621 and 622.)

And these aren't the only proposed changes to the FMLA that are kicking around in Congress; for more information, check out my update for Nolo's The Essential Guide to Family and Medical Leave.

Lisa Guerin