Senate Democrats

Pennsylvania’s Children Welcome You Mr. Bush

Today, President Bush gave a speech before the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Having just vetoed the bi-partisan Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization bill, the President has a lot of explaining to do to the children whose health insurance he just placed in jeopardy.  

Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey criticized the President’s veto stating:

“With this veto, President Bush has turned his back on millions of children and their families. President Bush ignored the bipartisan consensus among Congress, 43 governors, working families across America and groups ranging from doctors to law enforcement that support the continuation and expansion of the children’s health insurance program. The children’s health insurance bill would provide health care for ten million children including four million who would not otherwise have coverage. The Senate passed the bill with enough votes to override the President’s veto.  For the sake of the ten million children who will have health insurance with this legislation, I hope that we can secure the additional votes needed in the House.”

Pennsylvania’s CHIP program provides coverage for thousands of children:

Currently Over 164,000 Kids in Pennsylvania Receive Health Care Coverage Under The State’s CHIP Program. According to state administrators, for September 2007, 164,485 children receive health care coverage under Pennsylvania’s Children’s Health Insurance Program. [CHIP Covers PA Kids – LINK]

  • In Lancaster County, Over 6,600 Kids Receive Coverage Under CHIP. According to state officials, for September 2007, 6,684 kids in Lancaster County have health care coverage under the state’s CHIP program. [CHIP Covers PA Kids – LINK]

Pennsylvania Leads the Nation in Providing Health Care Coverage for Children. On December 2, 1992, former Governor Robert P. Casey signed into law the ‘Children’s Health Insurance Act.’ The legislation initially was sponsored by Representative Allen G. Kukovich (D) in the House, and Senator Allyson D. Schwartz (D) in the Senate, Schwartz is now a member of the United States House of Representatives. [CHIP Covers PA Kids – LINK]

  • Pennsylvania Congresswoman Schwartz, An Original Architect of the State Bill, Spoke Out Against the President’s Veto of CHIP. “As one of the original architects of CHIP in Pennsylvania, I have seen firsthand that it is possible to bring together public and private stakeholders and expand health coverage to millions of children — children of working families who cannot afford the increasing cost of coverage. As the September 30th deadline to reauthorize CHIP quickly approaches, American families are counting on us to live up to the promises we have made and secure coverage for 10 million American children. The Democratic majority understands the needs of working families, and has negotiated for weeks to craft the commonsense compromise legislation before us. This plan has a broad-based coalition of supporters ranging from our nation’s seniors, to our unions, businesses, insurance companies and health care providers, who have put aside their differences in support of CHIP reauthorization.” – [Rep. Allyson Schwartz, 9/25/07]

Pennsylvania’s program is proven successful and has broad statewide support:

Pennsylvania Began Its ‘Cover All Kids’ Program Earlier This Year To Offer Coverage for More Children. Under the program, which received federal approval, families with incomes at 200 percent of the poverty level pay no monthly premiums. Those with higher incomes up to 300 percent of the poverty level pay premiums ranging from about $38 to $60 per child. Families with incomes above 300 percent of the poverty level pay about $150 a month per child. [Morning Call, 8/26/07]

  • The Bush Administration Granted Pennsylvania Permission to Begin Its ‘Cover All Kids’ Initiative. After granting Pennsylvania and other states permission to expand their programs to cover families with incomes up to 300 percent above the poverty rate, the Bush administration backtracked last month in a move that would make it tougher for states to extend coverage to families with higher incomes. The state program allows families of four earning up to about $60,000 to participate. The expanded coverage is credited with an 11 percent increase in participation over the last year. [Patriot News, 9/26/07]
  • Pennsylvania Has a More Responsible Way to Deal With Children Living In Families Earning Above 200 Percent of the Federal Poverty Line. State administrator’s were dismayed to learn about the Bush Administration’s rule mandating states establish a minimum of a one-year period of no coverage for individuals, prior to receiving CHIP coverage. Pennsylvania already has a more reasonable policy in place: a “go-bare” period of six months for families who have used low-cost or at-cost programs. Those with free health care are not eligible and the six-month wait does not apply to children under age 2, and those who are moving between public health programs or who have lost a job. In Pennsylvania, about 93 percent of children under 200 percent of the poverty level are in those programs, said George Hoover, the Insurance Department’s deputy commissioner for CHIP and adult Basic programs. [Morning Call, 8/26/07]

The President of the Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania Supports the Bi-Partisan CHIP Reauthorization. Carolyn Scanlan, President and CEO of the Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania wore in an op-ed, “In 1992, Pennsylvania’s hospitals actively supported passage of our state’s Children’s Health Care Act, which established one of the nation’s first Children’s Health Insurance Programs, known as CHIP. We also supported inclusion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) in the 1997 federal Balanced Budget Act, as a way to give children across the nation access to this essential coverage. Currently, nearly 161,500 Pennsylvania children are covered by CHIP. Last year, Cover All Kids legislation was passed in Pennsylvania, expanding CHIP eligibility to children in families with incomes up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level. This expansion maintains Pennsylvania’s status as a leader among states when it comes to making health care coverage available to children.” [Patriot News, 9/25/07]