Freeman supports continued access to health care for children, extends CHIP

HARRISBURG, April 23 – State Rep. Robert Freeman, D-Northampton, voted Wednesday to extend the Children’s Health Insurance Program through Dec. 31, 2017.

"CHIP is a valuable program for many low-income families," Freeman said. "This bill ensures that all children eligible for CHIP continue to have access to the coverage they need, when they need it."

Currently, 148,137 children are enrolled in CHIP statewide. In Northampton County, 3,395 are enrolled.

CHIP provides free and low-cost health insurance to children from birth through 18 in families who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, but too little to buy private insurance. It covers immunizations, check-ups, diagnostic testing, prescriptions, dental, vision and hearing services, emergency care, mental health benefits, hospitalization and substance abuse rehabilitation, among other services. The cost of the insurance depends on a family's income.

Freeman said that when it was created, CHIP was a one-of-a-kind program, the first in the nation, and the federal government used Pennsylvania's program as the model for its State Children's Health Insurance Program. He voted for the original legislation that created the state program in 1992.

Freeman voted to expand CHIP and cover additional families in 2006, and since then the legislature has periodically voted to reauthorize CHIP every few years. Freeman also supported ending the requirement that children go without insurance for six months before being able to enroll in CHIP when the program was last reauthorized in 2013.

The bill (H.B. 857) becomes effective immediately with the governor's signature, but it first must go before the state Senate for approval.

To find out more, visit CHIP online at www.chipcoverspakids.com