Dent bill addresses CHIP-related Affordable Care Act issue

Written by Matt Paul, Reporter/Producer | Jan 28, 2014 4:00 AM

Congressman Dent (right) discusses his bill with Dr. Hillemeier

(Hershey) -- A midstate congressman is leading the charge to preserve Pennsylvania's CHIP program for tens of thousands of families who would otherwise be required to transition to Medicaid.

The federal Affordable Care Act requires all children in households at or below 133 percent of the federal poverty line to be enrolled in Medicaid. The provision mandates a change for some 30,000 families whose kids are currently enrolled in Pennsylvania's Children's Health Insurance Program.

But Republican Congressman Charlie Dent, whose district includes portions of Berks, Dauphin and Lebanon counties, is introducing legislation that would allow them to stay.

"It's clear that health care coverage simply does not equal health care access," says Dent, who contends CHIP provides better access to both doctors and hospitals.

"It's fine to say to a parent, "you're child's trip to a doctor will be paid for," but it means nothing if they can't find a physician accepting Medicaid patients."

Dent unveiled his bill during a stop at the Penn State Hershey Medical Center, where he was flanked by Governor Corbett and Chairman of Pediatrics Dr. Craig Hillemeier.

The federal government recently granted Pennsylvania permission to let the impacted families temporarily remain enrolled in CHIP through the end of the year.

But U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says Medicaid includes broader benefits and additional protections.

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