On December 2nd, the Pennsylvania Children's Health Insurance Program marked its 30th anniversary. In 1992. Pennsylvania Parnterships for Children worked with a coalition of partners to help pass state law implementing CHIP, which was signed into law by then Governor Bob Casey, Sr.
CHIP began to help fill a gap for families who couldn't afford private health insurance yet didn't qualify for Medicaid. Over the last three decades, CHIP has connected Pennsylvania kids to free or affordable, comprehensive health insurance and made a clear impact on reducing the child uninsured rate. Through private insurance companies contracting with the state, CHIP allows children access to regular doctor visits, well visits, dental, vision and hearing services, prescriptions, and mental health benefits.
Also noteworthy is Pennsylvania's program framed the national model in 1997. The federal government and states jointly finance CHIP.
In 2006, PPC again took a leadership role in a statewide coalition that successfully advocated for a new law, Cover All Kids, to broaden health care coverage through Pennsylvania CHIP. As a result, Pennsylvania offers a CHIP buy-in program—only 1 of 4 states to do so—which allows families with higher incomes who don't qualify for financial assistance to purchase a CHIP health insurance plan through the state at cost.
Big changes are on the horizon for CHIP. These include an IT system change that will shift how families enroll by using DHS County Assistance Offices, and the end of the public health emergency, in which tens of thousands of children will transition to the program from Medicaid. PPC will work to ensure children remain connected to health insurance, particularly as Pennsylvania's uninsured rate for children is starting to improve again.
Read a recent editorial about CHIP.