As we all know, children are the key to our future. One way to provide a solid foundation in a child’s life is by keeping them healthy. Pennsylvania's Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is one of the nation’s oldest and most successful programs and provides insurance coverage to kids whose families earn too much to qualify for Medical Assistance, but who cannot afford to purchase private insurance. More importantly, no family makes too much money to be ineligible for CHIP.
In 2006, the CHIP eligibility was expanded under the Cover All Kids initiative which provides all uninsured children and teens up to age 19, with access to affordable, comprehensive healthcare coverage.
CHIP is provided by private health insurance companies that are licensed and regulated by the Pennsylvania Insurance Department. Any resident can qualify for CHIP. Premiums are based on income, but for many families the program is free. Children in the CHIP program receive regular check-ups, immunizations and well-baby visits, emergency care, hospitalizations, prescriptions, vision care and dental care. As of August 2013, the current enrollment in CHIP is nearly 188,000 children.
Although Pennsylvania’s CHIP program has served as a national model for health insurance for kids, since Governor Corbett has taken office, the number of children enrolled in CHIP has slid by about 7,000 with the biggest losses among the group for whom CHIP is free. The Insurance Department officials have stated they are unable to explain why the number of children who receive this insurance coverage has declined.
Today, approximately 148,000 young residents, or nearly one in every 18 children in the Commonwealth remains uninsured. Because I feel that no child should go through life without healthcare coverage, I have signed onto a letter urging Governor Corbett to evaluate seven recommendations that the Senate Democratic Caucus has suggested on ways to improve CHIP enrollment.
Some of our recommendations include a referral process for the CHIP program as a part of school registrations, flyers sent out to students’ families at the beginning of each school year as well as advertisements placed in areas that are frequently traveled or seen by the community.
Pennsylvania is a great place to live in and every resident deserves to be healthy and have the means to see a doctor. The CHIP program has proven to be very successful and I look forward to the Commonwealth continuing this program for years to come. If you know someone who could benefit from CHIP enrollment or would like more information about the program, please visitwww.chipcoverspakids.com.
Senator Wayne D. Fontana
42nd Senatorial District