Members of the Pennsylvania House voted 176-19 Tuesday to pass a bill that would raise eligibility limits for the state’s Children’s Health Insurance Program.
The state Senate unanimously approved the bill, H.B. 2699, on Monday, and the House vote should clear the way for Gov. Edward Rendell, a Democrat, to sign the bill.
The original version of H.B. 2699 was introduced by state Rep. George Kenney, R-Philadelphia, but lawmakers replaced the original text of the bill with the text of Rendell’s “Cover All Kids” proposal.
Rendell put out a statement saying he hopes expansion of the Pennsylvania CHIP will provide affordable health coverage for most of the state’s 133,000 uninsured children.
Rendell says he wants to get the program running by January 2007.
The Pennsylvania CHIP now is free for children from families with annual incomes under 200% of the federal poverty level, or about $40,000 for a family of 4. The program offers subsidized coverage for families with annual income up to 235% of the federal poverty level, or about $47,000 for a family of 4, according to Rendell administration officials.
H.B. 2699 will make subsidized CHIP coverage available for families earning up to 300% of the federal poverty level, or $60,000 per year for a family of 4, officials say.
The monthly cost would range from $36 per child for a family with an annual income of $40,001 to $57 per child for a family with an annual income of $60,000.
Families that “cannot find or afford private health insurance for their children who are earning above 300% of the FPL ($60,000 a month for a family of 4)” can pay the full price for CHIP coverage if they can show that coverage was denied due to a pre-existing condition, or the cost of private coverage would cost more than 10% of the family’s annual income, or the cost of private insurance would be 150% more than the cost of CHIP coverage, officials say.