PITTSBURGH – Gov. Edward G. Rendell today signed into law his Cover All Kids initiative, making Pennsylvania one of six states to make sure that every child has health care coverage.
“Living in the world’s most affluent society, it shocks the conscience that any child should be forced to live without access to basic medical care,” Rendell said. “With Cover All Kids, Pennsylvania parents will no longer need to make the impossible choice between paying the rent and taking their child to see a doctor.
“Cover All Kids will provide peace of mind to parents because it offers a brighter, healthier future for our commonwealth’s most treasured resource: our children,” Rendell added. “I thank the General Assembly for honoring its commitment to Pennsylvania families by passing this significant bill.”
Under Cover All Kids, parents will be able to afford to insure their children because the monthly premiums will be based on family income. Currently, the Childrens’ Health Insurance Program — known as CHIP — is free for children from families with annual incomes under $40,000 (family of four — 200 percent of the federal poverty level) and available at a reduced cost for children from families with incomes up to $47,000 (family of four — 200 percent – 235 percent of FPL).
Under Cover All Kids, 100 percent of the parents who currently cannot afford to insure their children will get assistance from the state to ensure that the cost of health insurance for their children is reasonable.
Under the new law, the approximate monthly cost for parents is based on a sliding scale:
$36 a month per child for a family earning 200 percent – 250 percent of FPL (under $50,000 for a family of four)
$50 a month per child for a family earning 250 percent – 275 percent of FPL ($50,000- $55,000 for a family of four)
$57 a month per child for a family earning 275 percent – 300 percent of FPL ($55,000-$60,000 for a family of four)
Families that cannot find or afford private health insurance for their children who are earning above 300 percent of the FPL ($60,000 a year for a family of four) can purchase the coverage at the state cost, based on certain eligibility requirements. These families must show that coverage was denied due to a pre-existing condition, or that the cost of private coverage totals more than 10 percent of the family’s annual income, or that the cost of private insurance is one and a half times (150 percent) more than the state monthly per child cost for Cover All Kids.
If parents can buy employer-sponsored coverage for their children but cannot afford the full premium, the state will help the family to pay the premiums for private insurance, rather than enrolling the child in CHIP — if the cost of private coverage is lower.
To discourage parents from canceling private coverage to take advantage of the state subsidy, Cover All Kids has a waiting period that requires families show that their child has not had coverage for the last six months, unless the child is two years of age or less. The so-called “go bare” period is not required for infants, for children who have lost coverage because a parent lost a job or for kids who are moving from another public insurance program.
The 2006-07 state budget includes $4.5 million for Cover All Kids, which will be used to draw down additional federal funds. The bill the governor signed allows the state to step up outreach for existing programs for children, such as CHIP and Medicaid, to ensure every qualified child is enrolled.
Pennsylvania’s CHIP program is one of the most successful children’s health insurance programs in the nation, covering a record 148,355 children during October. CHIP was created under legislation signed in late 1992 by Gov. Robert P. Casey. The program served as a model for a federal CHIP program enacted by President Bill Clinton in 1997.
More information on the CHIP program can be found at www.chipcoverspakids.com or by calling 800-986-KIDS.