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House Judiciary Committee considers paternity health care bills

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Biological fathers of children born outside of marriage would be responsible for paying at least half of a mother’s pregnancy expenses. That's under legislation before the Michigan House Judiciary Committee.

Courts ordering child support would also require a father to pay for half of a child’s health insurance premium until the child is no longer a dependent.

State. Rep. Mark Tisdel (R-Rochester Hills) co-sponsors the legislation. He said the package would lower the state’s Medicaid expenses by shifting responsibilities onto those dads.

“The father has a 50% obligation. He directly participated in this conception and eventual birth. I think equity simply states that the father has that obligation to the state if it’s paid for by Medicaid or to the mother if it’s being paid for by her private insurance,” Tisdel said. “The father should not simply be allowed to walk away.”

Current policy does give the father some obligations to help cover medical costs. The proposed bills would set a minimum amount.

During the hearing, questions arose over what would happen if a father is unable to pay his share under the proposal.

Rebecca Shiemke is with the Michigan Poverty Law Program.

“I’m concerned that by requiring a minimum of 50% of a cost being paid by fathers as opposed to a focus on current law, which is focused on ability to pay, will have on fathers. Sort of their continued financial security, their stability and their continued obligation and ability to support their children into the future,” Shiemke said.

HB 5860, which deals with pregnancy-related medical care, would amend the state’s Paternity Act. Meanwhile HB 5861, focusing on a child’s health insurance premiums, would amend the Support and Parenting Time Enforcement Act.

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