Harrisburg, PA – Yesterday, Department of Human Services Acting Secretary Teresa Miller was joined by families, advocates, and stakeholders at the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in the commonwealth and to push for the re-authorization needed to continue the program.
“Initially, we had hoped this would purely be a celebratory event – unfortunately, we still have some work to do,” said Miller. “CHIP works. It is credited with helping to cut the uninsured rate for kids by more than half, while also reducing hospitalization rates, improving kids’ educational outcomes, and bolstering their families’ economic well-being.”
Signed into law in 1992 by Governor Bob Casey, Pennsylvania’s CHIP program was the first in the nation of its kind. Ten years ago, Governor Ed Rendell expanded CHIP to offer coverage to all children. Since 2009, more than 850,000 Pennsylvania kids have enrolled in CHIP.
“CHIP is not a luxury we can afford to let our children live without,” said Allies for Children Executive Director Patrick Dowd. “Health care is an essential element that every single child should have and no parent should have to worry about. We need our children healthy so they will be healthy adults and become great leaders and innovators.”
Depending on the family income – children are eligible for free coverage or coverage based on a sliding scale payment. Despite all of the families touched by CHIP and the access to high-quality health care coverage it provides, the program will no longer exist, unless Congress and the Pennsylvania General Assembly act. Nationally, this affects 9 million kids – and in Pennsylvania, nearly 179,000.
“In addition to reauthorization at the federal level, Pennsylvania’s General Assembly needs to reauthorize CHIP as well. A clean CHIP reauthorization bill is close to a final vote, but I urge the General Assembly to take swift action to send that bill to the Governor’s desk in the coming weeks,” said Miller.
Failure to do so means Pennsylvania’s program will lapse at the end of the year, regardless of action taken in Congress. Pennsylvania is exploring all contingency options to extend the funding period and adjust the notification timeline to families, but as of now, is able to fund CHIP in the commonwealth through the first quarter of 2018.
“Everyone insists that CHIP’s re-authorization will happen within the next few weeks, but we have been hearing that for months now. With every day that goes by, our concern increases,” said Miller. “We need Congress to act quickly, so kids and their families are no longer left wondering if they will have health care at the end of January. We need them to get CHIP done – our children depend on it.”
For more information on CHIP and for a letter to send to representatives, visitwww.CHIPCoversPAKids.com.