Children's Health Insurance Program bill for Pa. kids renewed


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HARRISBURG -- The state House unanimously approved a bill Tuesday renewing the Children's Health Insurance Program and eliminating a six-month waiting period for some enrollees.

The bill now heads to the governor's desk for his signature; it passed the Senate unanimously last month.

The governor is expected to sign the bill.

The proposal is part of Gov. Tom Corbett's Healthy PA proposal, a package of initiatives that aim to overhaul the state's Medicaid program and also provide subsidies to low-income consumers to allow them to purchase private insurance.

"This bill moves the state one step closer to achieving my Healthy Pennsylvania goal of increasing access to quality, affordable health care by helping to insure all children in Pennsylvania," said a statement from Mr. Corbett's office.

Statewide, 188,098 children are enrolled in CHIP, according to October statistics from the state's Insurance Department.

CHIP provides insurance coverage to children whose families make too much money to qualify for Medicaid, but who can't afford private insurance. Begun in Pennsylvania in 1992, it was later the model for a similar federal program. All children and teens in the state who are under 19 and uninsured are considered eligible.

Like Medicaid, CHIP is administered by states, but it is jointly funded by the federal government and states.

The six-month waiting period does not apply to every applicant, but to those from families with incomes over 200 percent of the federal poverty level.

It was initially put in place to prevent employers or consumers from dropping private insurance to enroll in CHIP.

Families with incomes up to $46,100 annually qualify for free CHIP; those with incomes above that limit pay monthly premiums and co-pays for some services, according to information from the Senate Republican caucus.

The bill extends the program until the end of 2015.

The legislation is the first proposal from Mr. Corbett's Healthy PA plan to pass both chambers of the Legislature. Other parts of the plan, such as changes to Medicaid benefit plans and implementing a work requirement for able-bodied recipients are dependent on federal approval.

electionspa - state - health

Kate Giammarise: kgiammarise@post-gazette.com or 717-787-4254. Twitter: @KateGiammarise. First Published October 15, 2013 8:00 PM


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