Senate Approves Bill Extending CHIP

The Senate today (October 25) approved legislation that would extend the life of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) while prohibiting the use of funds for sex change procedures, according to Senate Banking & Insurance Committee Chairman Senator Don White (R-Indiana).

House Bill 1388 changes the expiration date of CHIP from December 31, 2017 to December 31, 2019 and makes a clarifying exemption to the program’s expiration if federal funding for the program extends beyond December 31, 2019.

The bill — passed by a bipartisan, veto-proof 37-13 vote — returns to the House of Representatives for concurrence on Senate amendments.

 “Pennsylvania’s CHIP program is one of the Commonwealth’s true success stories and has served as a model for similar programs across the country,” said Senator White. “Tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians lead healthy and productive lives because of the essential medical services they received as children through CHIP, and thousands of young people are today benefitting from the program.”

The Senate adopted amendments, in committee and on second reading, introduced by Senator White that bars the use of CHIP money to pay for gender or sex reassignment surgery.

“It is completely inappropriate to use state funds to pay for sex change operations for children. I believe that is a position that is strongly endorsed by a vast majority of Pennsylvanians,” said Senator White. “I strongly support CHIP. This program provides vital health care services for Pennsylvania’s children. It is irresponsible to allow its limited resources to be used for sex change procedures.”

Senator White said the proposed restriction for CHIP is in line with current state regulations that prohibit the use of Medicaid funding for sex change procedures.

“Pennsylvania law already prohibits our largest state health care program from using taxpayer money for these services,” Senator White said. “It only makes sense to define in statute that this restriction includes CHIP as well.”

CHIP is supported by both state and federal funding and provides insurance coverage to uninsured children and teens (up to age 19) whose families earn too much to qualify for Medical Assistance, but cannot afford private insurance. There are about 175,000 Pennsylvania children enrolled in CHIP.

Contact:         Joe Pittman     jpittman@pasen.gov