Pennsylvania Delegation Members Seek to Preserve Pennsylvania Children’s Health Insurance Program

Jul 3, 2013 Issues: Healthcare

Bellefonte, PA – U.S. Representative Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson today was joined by eleven Members of Congress from Pennsylvania in sending a letter to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, requesting that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania be exempted from a requirement under the President's 2010 healthcare law, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), that could force a significant portion of enrollees in the Pennsylvania Children’s Health Insurance Program (PA CHIP) into the Medicaid system. The letter reiterates initial requests made by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett earlier this year.

"As Members of the Pennsylvania Delegation, we are very concerned about the impact this change could have on health care services and access to high quality health providers,”  the letter states.

Both Governor Corbett and the Members of Congress assert that the PA CHIP program provides children with low-cost, market-based health insurance coverage, and laud the program for offering commercial products that are widely accepted by physicians.

“Unlike most states, the commonwealth’s program is based on a commercial product platform, rather than Medicaid, and provides a wide array of health insurance benefits and greater access to doctors and hospitals,” the letter continues. “We echo the commonwealth’s concerns that CHIP kids may not be able to stay with their current provider if moved to Medicaid.”

The commonwealth has calculated that of the 187,000 current enrollees in PA CHIP approximately 70,000 enrollees will be transferred into the Medicaid program, as a result of the ACA requirement.

“We strongly support the state’s request for added flexibility, in order to preserve the PA CHIP program,” the letter states. “We ask that you work with the commonwealth to preserve this critical program in a way that works best for Pennsylvania’s children.”

On June 4, 2013, Thompson made a similar request to Secretary Sebelius, when she testified as a witness before the House Committee on Education & the Workforce, one of three committees in the House with jurisdiction over the ACA.

Established in 1992, the PA CHIP program lent the framework for the federal law – the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) – and is widely recognized as a best practice model in providing children with low-cost, market-based health insurance coverage.