Thompson, Bipartisan Group of PA House Members Introduce Bill to Protect CHIP Program

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (PA-5) and Charlie Dent (PA-15) have announced the introduction of legislation that would preserve the Pennsylvania Children’s Health Insurance Program (PA CHIP), as well as protect similar programs in other states.

“CHIP was a bipartisan creation here in Pennsylvania that served for the basis of the federal model of market-based insurance for our children. This is a legacy in the Commonwealth and shifting children into Medicaid as required by the Affordable Care Act will only limit access to care for those who need it most,” stated Thompson.

“Governor Corbett has worked tirelessly with the Department of Health and Human Services to find a solution that offers families the ability to retain CHIP coverage. Moving forward, the Pennsylvania Congressional Delegation must work together to make sure there is a permanent solution, codified in law, so children will be able to retain access to their healthcare and get out from under the ill-advised mandates created by the Affordable Care Act.”

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.

Before the Health Care law, states had to cover children who were under the age of 6 years 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.

The legislation, originally introduced by Dent simply strikes the Health Care law changes mandating all children below 133 percent 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 percent 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.

Gov. Tom Corbett took up CHIP’s standard earlier this year and was able to secure a one-year waiver from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

In addition to Thompson and Dent, the bill has seven additional original co-sponsors: U.S. Reps. Gerlach,  Pat Meehan, Mike Fitzpatrick, Mike Kelly, Scott Perry, Lou Barletta and Alyson Schwartz.

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