Gov. Tom Corbett on Wednesday signed a bill extending Pennsylvania’s Children’s Health Insurance Program and eliminating the program’s 6-month waiting period.
House Bill 108, sponsored by state Rep. Nick Micozzie (R–Delaware), changes the expiration date for the CHIP program from Dec. 31, 2013 to Dec. 31, 2015.
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It also removes the program's provision requiring children go without insurance for 6 months before qualifying for enrollment in CHIP.
"This bill moves us closer to ensuring that every child in Pennsylvania has timely access to healthcare coverage," Corbett said in a statement.
"CHIP is a nationally-recognized program that has been providing health insurance coverage for over two decades."
Bill co-sponsor state Rep. Ed Neilson (D–Phila) said in a release he is pleased the bill became law.
"Removing the ‘go bare' period was my number one priority," Neilson said in a statement.
"There was no legitimate reason for that provision in the first place, and it forced parents to gamble with the health and well-being of their children. We now have a stronger and more compassionate system without it."
CHIP is a public-private partnership, with the state offering the program and defining its benefits plans and private insurance carriers coordinating benefits and corresponding care with provider networks.
More than 188,000 children are currently enrolled in CHIP, and more than one million children have accessed health care through the program over the course of its history.
Neilson said the bill signed by Corbett will allow CHIP to continue to be funded by the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.
But Corbett said in a release that, under the Affordable Care Act, children up to 138 percent of the poverty level would involuntarily be moved from CHIP into Medicaid, a move he opposes.
He has requested U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius authorize the legislature to keep Pennsylvania’s children in the CHIP program.
As conversations between the federal and state government continue, the Pennsylvania Insurance Department has asked for an extension on the possible move, now scheduled to occur Jan. 1, 2014.
“I continue to have concerns that moving children from PA CHIP's commercial insurance platform to Medicaid could cause disruptions in their relationships with their healthcare providers and delays in their ability to access care,” Corbett said in a statement.
"CHIP works for Pennsylvania’s families."