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Pennsylvania Governor Rendell Urges General Assembly to Support Children's Health Insurance Program

CHIP, Pa's recognized children's health-care leader, may be faced with harsh decisions

FOLSOM, Pa., June 24 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Governor Edward G. Rendell said today that Pennsylvania families should not have to worry about losing health insurance for their children -- especially during hard economic times -- and urged the General Assembly to adequately fund the Children's Health Insurance Program in the upcoming state budget.

"The nation is experiencing one of the most significant economic downturns that many of us have ever known," Governor Rendell said during a visit to the Loving Care Children's Learning Center in Folsom. "Now is the time to be sure that important safety nets like the Children's Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, continue to offer health insurance to children in need of coverage and care.

"Many children enrolled in CHIP come to us because their parents have lost their job and benefits. That is why I included funding in my budget proposal that would allow an additional 24,000 children to enroll in CHIP."

Standing in the same classroom where he announced the "Cover All Kids" expansion of CHIP in 2006, the Governor said the spending plan developed and passed by Senate Republicans would cut his proposed budget for the nationally-recognized CHIP program by nearly $8 million.

"Two years ago, I stood here to announce we were able to expand the CHIP program to cover all uninsured children. Today, more than 11,000 children are in CHIP who would not have eligible prior to that expansion. Because of all our good work Pennsylvania's CHIP program stands as a model for the nation and parents tell me all the time how well their children are doing because of CHIP coverage and care. We cannot allow budget cuts to erode the success of this essential program.

"The Senate's cuts could translate into less coverage for almost 12,000 children and would leave $16.7 million in federal matching money on the table -- money that could be used to give children access to health care," said the Governor. "Without adequate state support, we may be faced with very harsh decisions that could mean creating a wait list for the program, scaling back CHIP's benefit package, or both.

"For a child, losing health care -- even for a year -- can carry serious consequences. Also, when children are forced to turn elsewhere for health care, such as the school nurse's office or a local hospital emergency room, local taxpayers and hospitals must absorb those extra costs."

CHIP offers quality health-care coverage for all of Pennsylvania's uninsured kids and teens (up to age 19) who are not eligible for Medical Assistance. Coverage includes doctor visits, dental care, eye care, prescriptions, immunizations, mental health and much more. According to June enrollment figures, there are 193,350 children currently covered by CHIP.

More information on the CHIP program can be found at or by calling 1-800-986-KIDS.

The Rendell administration is committed to creating a first-rate public education system, protecting our most vulnerable citizens and continuing economic investment to support our communities and businesses. To find out more about Governor Rendell's initiatives and to sign up for his newsletter, visit his Web site at:

    Chuck Ardo

SOURCE Pennsylvania Office of the Governor
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