PITTSBURGH, Sept. 19, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Governor Tom Corbett toured and visited with ninth and tenth graders at the Estelle S. Campbell Boys & Girls Club today in Pittsburgh on his most recent stop of his Healthy Pennsylvania tour, asking all partners to join him in enrollment and outreach efforts to get all Pennsylvania children insured.
Corbett's Healthy Pennsylvania plan focuses on improving access, ensuring quality, and providing affordability through a variety of initiatives such as promoting primary care and health information technology, convening a Healthy Pennsylvania Summit, and reforming Pennsylvania's Medicaid program.
The full plan can be viewed online at www.pa.gov.
"I believe that every child should have health care coverage, that every Pennsylvanian should have access to a family doctor or health care provider, and that – no matter where you live – every Pennsylvanian should have access to a specialist as needed," Corbett said. "I can think of no better way to further the goal of a Healthy Pennsylvania than to talk about insuring all kids."
After a short tour of the Boys & Girls Club, Corbett spoke about Pennsylvania's Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which covers all Pennsylvania uninsured children who do not qualify for Medicaid or other insurance programs.
"Pennsylvania kids are growing up healthy because of the Children's Health Insurance Program," Corbett said. "This is a nationally-recognized program that has been providing health insurance coverage for two decades."
While there is no waiting list for the program, Corbett's Healthy Pennsylvania plan does seek to eliminate its six-month mandatory "go bare" period that exists for some of the children on the program to provide more timely access to coverage for all kids under CHIP. He is also asking the legislature to reauthorize the program by Dec. 31, 2013.
The 2013-14 budget included $8.5 million for enrollment and outreach efforts for CHIP, with a goal of insuring more than 9,000 additional children in the program.
Corbett indicated he will be focusing on getting the word out in every school in the state through special promotions and partnerships, and he has charged his Acting Education Secretary Carolyn Dumaresq with finding the best ways for schools to receive and distribute CHIP information. More than two million CHIP flyers have already gone to every Intermediate Unit in the state.
By Oct. 1, CHIP advertisements will be running on buses and transit, and online advertising will go live promoting the CHIP website for more information about the program.
CHIP is one of Pennsylvania's most successful public-private partnerships. The state offers the program and defines its benefit plans; private insurance carriers coordinate those benefits and the care they provide with robust provider networks.
Nine insurance company contractors across the state provide generous benefits packages and coverage through CHIP, giving families more than one choice in every county.
During the program's history, more than one million children have been provided access to quality coverage and care through CHIP. More than 188,000 children are currently enrolled in the program.
Eight out of 10 families in the program would recommend it to a friend, and CHIP families overwhelmingly report a high level of satisfaction with their healthcare providers.
Under a requirement of the Affordable Care Act, children up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level would be involuntarily moved from the CHIP program into Medicaid, a move that is opposed on a bipartisan basis by Corbett and members of the legislature.
Corbett has requested from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius the ability to keep Pennsylvania's children in the successful CHIP program. While conversations continue between the federal and state government, the Pennsylvania Insurance Department has asked for an extension on the possible move, scheduled to occur on Jan. 1, 2014.
"I continue to have concerns that moving children from PA CHIP's commercial insurance platform to Medicaid could cause disruptions in their relationships with their health care providers and delays in their ability to access care," Corbett said. "CHIP works for Pennsylvania's families."
Joining the governor on his visit today were Pennsylvania Physician General Dr. Carrie DeLone; Insurance Department Commissioner Michael Consedine; Department of Welfare Secretary Beverly Mackereth and Franca D'Agostino, executive director of CHIP.
Hosting Corbett's tour this afternoon were Tom Melhone, chief executive officer of the Boys and Girls Club Charter School; Mike Keppler, president and CEO, and Tom McKesney, board president, both from the Boys and Girls Clubs of Western PA.
Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children President and CEO Joan Benso also supported the governor's proposed health care reforms that will help provide more children with insurance coverage.
"Pennsylvania has nearly 148,000 uninsured children, so we clearly need to step up efforts to make sure more children have insurance,'' Benso said. "The governor has proposed expanding our CHIP outreach efforts, which will be an important step toward finding and enrolling more children. The governor's proposal to use federal funds to expand insurance coverage to more low-income adults can help in this effort as well, because we know parents who have insurance are more likely to make sure their kids are covered, too.
"Whether children are covered under Medicaid, CHIP or private insurance, our primary goal as a commonwealth should be ensuring every child has some type of insurance coverage. The governor has outlined some common-sense concepts for reaching that goal, and we look forward to working with policymakers as this important public policy discussion unfolds.
"Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children has spent more than two decades working productively with governors and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to help ensure the commonwealth's children have access to the health care they need and deserve to thrive and succeed. We are hopeful this is an opportunity to build on that progress," Benso said.
For more information about CHIP, visit www.chipcoverspakids.com.
Media contact: Lynn Lawson or Christine Cronkright, 717-783-1116
Rosanne Placey, Insurance, 717-787-3289
SOURCE Pennsylvania Office of the Governor