(Derry Twp, PA) Congressman Charlie Dent (PA-15) announced the introduction of legislation that would preserve PA Children’s Health Insurance Program (PA CHIP), as well as protecting similar programs in other states, during a press conference at the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.
Congressman Dent was joined by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett. Alan Brechbill, Executive Director of the Medical Center and Dr. Craig Hillemeier, the Chair of Penn State Hershey’s Department of Pediatrics also spoke.
PA CHIP is a nationally recognized program. It was established in 1992, was reauthorized in 1998 and expanded in 2006. In fiscal year 2012-2013 nearly 190,000 children were enrolled in PA CHIP.
“A provision of the Health Care law will negatively impact state CHIP programs like PA CHIP and hurt families with children who have come to rely on, trust and appreciate such programs by forcing them into a comparatively substandard Medicaid program,” said Dent.
Before the Health Care law, states had to cover children under the age of 6 in families with income below 133 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) in Medicaid. Older children and teens with incomes above 100 percent of the FPL were allowed to be covered in separate state CHIP or Medicaid programs at state option. The Health Care law will cause 21 states to move children off of well-liked and well-run CHIP plans and onto the Medicaid rolls.
This requirement will impact approximately 30,000 families in Pennsylvania.
“CHIP in Pennsylvania is a clear success story and the Children’s Health Insurance Protection (CHIP) Act will ensure that children who are enrolled in CHIP and like the program, can keep their plans,” continued Dent. “Forcing children out of their current plans could unnecessarily disrupt their coverage and restrict access to the physicians these families know and trust.”
Congressman Dent’s legislation simply strikes the Health Care law changes mandating all children below 133% of the Federal Poverty Level be forced onto Medicaid.
If the CHIP Act becomes law, states would have the option of covering children between 100-133% FPL in either Medicaid as a “Medicaid child funded with CHIP dollars” or in a separate CHIP program –thus preserving CHIP. This bill would also provide the long-term stability that PA CHIP administrators need as they continue their efforts to expand and improve the program.
“There’s an old saying that ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.’ I intend to prevent the Health Care law from harming CHIP,” said Dent.
Governor Tom Corbett took up CHIP’s standard earlier this year and was able to secure a one-year waiver from the Department of Health and Human Services.
"My goal is to ensure less disruption of care and ultimately provide choice to Pennsylvania's families," Gov. Corbett said. "I applaud Congressman Dent for his leadership at the federal level in advocating for Pennsylvania’s children who rely on CHIP."
Dent noted that his bill has eight original co-sponsors: Congressman Gerlach, Congressman Pat Meehan, Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick, Congressman Mike Kelly, Congressman Scott Perry, Congressman G.T. Thompson, Congressman Lou Barletta, and Congresswoman Alyson Schwartz.
“Ensuring that children keep their health coverage and can continue to see the doctors they trust is not a partisan issue,” stated Dent. “I look forward to working with my colleagues from both sides of the aisle to get this bill passed and signed into law,” Dent said in conclusion.
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