Today, Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) spoke out against one of the Affordable Care Act’s most popular provisions, which allows young adults to stay on their parent’s plan up to age 26. Speaking from the House floor he said “I have four kids under the age of 26. I have raised them to be responsible. The average age of soldiers in Vietnam was 19. World War II probably the same. I have raised my kids to be responsible, to get health care at 21. Kids don’t need to be running home to mommy and daddy until they’re 26 for healthcare.” The dependent coverage provision is one of the most popular in the health care law, with polls showing as much as 70% of Americans support the provision.

“Jack Kingston and his family have every right to not extend coverage to their children. That’s their choice. But apparently Rep. Kingston thinks his ideas on how to raise children should dictate the health care choices of millions of families and their children. Rep. Kingston should tell the families in Georgia already benefiting from this provision that he knows best when he tries to take coverage away from their kids,” says Aaron Smith, Co-founder and Executive Director of Young Invincibles.

Rep. Kingston may not know that Georgia already had a law extending dependent coverage before the new health care law. The old Georgia state law extended coverage to young adults up to the age of 25, although it was full of restrictions. The law only required a family plan to offer coverage to young adults that were financially dependent and enrolled as full-time students for at least 5 months of the year, or who were eligible to be a full-time student but prevented due to illness or injury. The state law also did not apply to many large employers that were self-insured. The federal law raised the age to 26, removed almost all of these restrictions, and applies to all employers, including self-insurers.

In 2010, 343,000 19-25 year olds were uninsured in Georgia, while the unemployment rate among the same age group in Georgia is a staggering 20%. An estimated 43,500 young Georgians are predicted to benefit from this new federal provision in 2011, at no cost to the federal or state budget, while thousands more will benefit when the exchanges are fully implemented in 2014.

Rep. Kingston’s position is at odds with many other Republicans who have supported dependent coverage. For example, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina recently said “[t]here’s some things in there like parents being able to keep their kids on insurance while they’re going to school — that’s good stuff.”

Young Invincibles has a fact sheet on the impact of the dependent coverage provision in Georgia, among other states. Find it here.