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Corbett Wraps Up 'Healthy Pennsylvania' Tour in Pittsburgh, Touts CHIP

Gov. Tom Corbett has been traveling the state, raising awareness of Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

As part of the push to get all Pennsylvania children enrolled in CHIP, the governor is convening a Healthy Pennsylvania Summit in the spring and continues his effort to overhaul the state’s Medicaid program. Included in the 2013-14 budget is $8.5 million for enrollment and outreach efforts for CHIP.

“On the first of October Pittsburgh will see ads regarding CHIP on the area’s buses and transit and online advertising for our CHIP website,” Corbett said. “We are also focusing on getting the word out to every school in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania with special promotions and partnerships.”

Corbett has voiced concern that CHIP would be lost under the Affordable Care Act, but in an appearance in Pittsburgh earlier this month, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said “the Affordable Care Act in no way gets rid of the Pennsylvania CHIP program. It just ensures that the lower-income children would be in the same plan that there family is in … so parents would be able to sign up for the same plan that the children are in."

The Corbett administration said that under the Affordable Care Act, children up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level would be involuntarily moved from the CHIP program into Medicaid. The governor has asked for an extension on the possible move which is currently scheduled to start Jan. 1, 2014.

Corbett said his administration continues to work with HHS on the issue, and he added that he believes CHIP is a better choice for families than anything offered by the federal government.

“During our program’s history more than one million children are estimated to have had access to quality coverage and to quality care and right now we have more than 188,000 children enrolled and eight out of 10 families would recommend this program to a friend,” he said.

At a Boys and Girls Club in Pittsburgh, Corbett also spoke about the importance of promoting health information technology and the use of telemedicine for areas that may not have access to face-to-face doctor visits.

There is no waiting list for CHIP, and the governor has a goal of enrolling more than 9,000 additional children in the program. Nearly 148,000 children in Pennsylvania are currently uninsured.