Oct. 19, 2015

Legislation seeks to move program to Human Service Department

HARRISBURG – Pennsylvania families who have children enrolled in the state’s Children’s Health Insurance Program would not see any changes to their coverage if the program is moved to another state agency, under legislation examined by the House Insurance Committee on Monday, said committee chairman, Rep. Tina Pickett (R-Bradford/Sullivan/Susquehanna).

Pickett has authored House Bill 1633 so that Pennsylvania can move CHIP from its current home in the Insurance Department to the Department of Human Services (DHS). All 49 other states in the nation house their programs in agencies specifically for health, human services and/or Medicaid.

“Aligning CHIP with the Human Services Department would allow the state to merge informational technology systems and better meet federal regulations, along with providing a better coordination of care,” Pickett said. “With Pennsylvania as the national CHIP model, it only makes sense for our state to find ways in which we can better coordinate services and mitigate future costs, while minimizing impact on the families and children it serves.”

Both Insurance Commissioner Teresa Miller and Human Services Secretary Ted Dallas told the committee on Monday that they envision a seamless transition should the move take place. They emphasized that families and children should not notice any changes to their benefits, coverage, provider networks or even their insurance card. All changes would take place on the administrative end to conform with federal law. If undertaken in the next two years, the federal government would reimburse 90 percent of the transition costs.

This legislation would not change any current eligibility, benefits or provider networks that provide services to the children through the CHIP program. The existing CHIP staff would continue to staff the program at DHS.

The two agency officials also noted that this change would allow better coordination of services, especially for families whose income levels fluctuate and children transition between CHIP and Medicaid, upward of 10,000 each year, and to identify more children who would benefit from coverage.

“As CHIP’s administration is shifted to DHS, which has the administrative and information systems experience, children and families will benefit by streamlining the process to provide continuity of care and a cost savings for the Commonwealth,” Pickett added. “My hope is that this change would allow even more families and children to be served by this popular and successful program.”

Created in 1992, CHIP provides health insurance to uninsured children and teens that are not eligible for or enrolled in Medical Assistance. Nearly 150,000 children are presently covered by CHIP. That includes 646 in Bradford County, 57 in Sullivan County and 553 in Susquehanna County.

More information about CHIP is available online at CHIPCoversPAKids.com.

Representative Tina Pickett
110th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Jennifer Keaton
(717) 705-2094
RepPickett.com / Facebook.com/RepPickett