Gov. Tom Wolf signed a bill into law on Dec. 20, 2015, that reauthorizes Pennsylvania’s Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) — a program that provides health insurance to children in Pennsylvania under age 19 who don’t qualify for Medical Assistance — which was set to expire at the end of 2015. The bill was approved by both the House and Senate on Dec. 10, 2015.
Act 84 (House Bill 857), sponsored by Rep. Tina Pickett (R-Bradford County), extends the life of CHIP until the end of 2017 and also moves the program from the Pennsylvania Insurance Department to the Department of Human Services.
In August 2015, Gov. Wolf announced a number of changes to CHIP that took effect on Dec. 1, 2015, to ensure that the program meets minimum essential coverage requirements of the Affordable Care Act.
The changes included the following:
- All CHIP plans will cover certain preventive care services—such as oral hygiene education and dietary instruction—without cost sharing in the form of copayments, coinsurance, or deductibles.
- Annual and lifetime limits will be eliminated on the cost of some specific services and equipment like durable medical equipment, hearing aids, pediatric vision and dental service, including orthodontic services.
- Health plans must provide parity between mental health/substance abuse benefits and medical/surgical benefits.
In April 2015, federal funding of CHIP was extended for two years under H.R. 2, the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015.