Corbett signs CHIP extension
HARRISBURG — Gov. Tom Corbett signed a bill on Wednesday to extend a popular program that provides health insurance for children and eliminate a six-month waiting period that forced some children to go without health care before they could join.
Corbett's signature followed speedy approval by the Legislature to renew the Children's Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, through 2015. Children's advocates have criticized the six-month waiting period as a needlessly bureaucratic and complicated step that forced children to go uninsured, and Corbett made its elimination part of his effort to close the gap of an estimated 150,000 children in Pennsylvania who lack insurance.
“It sends a very clear, a very unmistakable message: In Pennsylvania, we take care of our own and we have the best CHIP program in the nation,” Corbett said at a news conference while flanked by lawmakers and Roman Catholic schoolchildren from the Harrisburg area.
The 2-decade-old CHIP serves more than 188,000 children, according to state figures, and is available to uninsured children and teens who are not eligible for Medicaid. Depending on a family's income, it provides free, low-cost or at-cost coverage. At-cost premiums are $200 a month for families of four earning $70,600 or more a year, while families of four earning less than that would pay no more than $77 a month.
Since Corbett became governor in January 2011, the rolls of CHIP and Medicaid have shrunk by more than 77,000, according to the latest figures from the Department of Public Welfare. He eliminated a state-subsidized health insurance program for about 40,000 lower-income adults called adultBasic in 2011 that was running out of money.
The waiting period being eliminated applied to children who qualify for the low-cost and at-cost CHIP programs, but not to the free CHIP program. The waiting period was a way to discourage parents or employers from dropping private insurance to enroll children in CHIP.
There were 206 children serving out the six-month waiting period, the Department of Insurance said Wednesday.
Corbett signed the bill a day after the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania issued a report based on federal government data showing that the percentage of uninsured Pennsylvanians rose to 12 percent in 2012 from 10.8 percent in 2011, even as slightly more people nationally became insured over that period.
Pennsylvania, however, remained below the national average of 15.4 percent of the population uninsured, the hospital association said.
The percentage of Pennsylvanians covered by private, employer-based health insurance also dropped to below 60 percent, down from 66 percent a decade ago, the hospital association's report said.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.