Federal push to protect Pa.'s CHIP coverage - abc27 WHTM

Federal push to protect Pa.'s CHIP coverage

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Governor Tom Corbett is getting federal help to keep Pennsylvania's free healthcare plan for children in low-income families.

Known as "CHIP," the Children Health Insurance Plan in Pennsylvania would cease to exist under a requirement by the new Affordable Care Act. Thirty thousand CHIP families have until next year to switch to the required Medicaid after Governor Corbett was granted an extension last week.

On Monday, he and Congressman Charlie Dent (R-15th District) had a different idea: Permanently preserve CHIP.

Both spoke at the Penn State Hershey Medical Center's Children's Hospital about a bill Dent would introduce to cancel the required shift. Congressman Dent said The Children's Health Insurance Protection Act would keep CHIP as an option.

Since 1992, CHIP covers children ages 6 and older. In Pennsylvania, CHIP covers nearly 190,000 children. Governor Corbett said parents should have the option to keep their children's doctor.

"No child should ever have to lose access to his or her doctor particularly because of a one-size-fits-all plan coming from Washington," Corbett said.

The governor argued CHIP is widely used among doctors in Pennsylvania, giving the plan more flexibility. Doctors find CHIP more attractive because of its higher reimbursement rates. Medicaid supporters argue their plan is more comprehensive than CHIP.

"We'll disagree," Corbett said. "We think our program is better than a Medicaid program right now." 

Congressman Dent said canceling the shift would save taxpayers money. He said when it comes to children, the state knows best.

"As long as there is a president named Obama, there's not going to be a repeal of Obamacare in the short term," he said. "So in the meantime, we're going to have to make changes to this law that benefits our constituents.

Dent said his bill is not a partisan issue and felt he should receive support from across the aisle. A spokesperson from the office of Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz (D-13th District) said she would strongly support Dent's bill. Schwartz, a gubernatorial candidate, said in a statement she helped craft CHIP in 1992 when she was a state senator.

"This legislation ensures that Pennsylvania has the flexibility to continue to provide the high-quality health care coverage our state's children deserve," said Schwartz.

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