CHIP provides essential health benefits, including behavioral health services, to over 100,000 children in Pennsylvania and over 9 million children in the United States. Healthcare contributes to financial stability since an emergency for someone who does not have healthcare can push a working family into poverty.
(1) As Governor, what would you do to make sure working families have access to quality, affordable health care for their children through CHIP? What policy changes would you support at a state level to increase access and affordability for working adults who don’t have employer-sponsored healthcare?
Ellsworth: The CHIP program has been one of the most successful programs in Pennsylvania and I would fight against efforts to curtail it. The most effective thing that can be done at the moment to increase the scope of CHIP is to more effectively bring into the program children who already qualify; there are too many children who currently qualify for funding that is already available, but they do not participate because they are not aware that they are eligible. Consequently, we would support awareness efforts to bring all eligible children into the program. We also would work with healthcare providers as part of a broader healthcare effort, to ensure that services to all citizens – including our children – are provided in the most effective and efficient manner.
Wagner: CHIP is a legacy item for Pennsylvania. While I often disagreed with Governor Casey, I commend his leadership in creating the CHIP Program. The program has become a national model for other states and even the federal government. Unfortunately, the CHIP funding from the federal government has become another issue in the partisan food fight in Washington DC. The Federal Government should do their job and pass budgets that prioritize important programs like CHIP. Funding for CHIP must continue regardless if federal aid ceases. Over $400 million is provided to Pennsylvania from the federal government to pay for CHIP currently. If it's not funded, it will either require us to make some tough budget decisions or to limit those eligible for the program. But as Governor you can trust that I will always defend and fund CHIP.
Wolf: Since I have taken office, Pennsylvania has increased enrollment in the Children’s Health Insurance Program by 22.2 percent. The program now serves more than 180,000 Pennsylvania children. I am committed to protecting CHIP and ensuring that this critical program continues to receive the funding it needs. Last year, when Republicans in Congress failed to reauthorize CHIP, I signed legislation reauthorizing Pennsylvania's Children's Health Insurance Program and pressured Congress to reauthorize it on the federal level, until they finally passed the reauthorization.
In 2015, I signed HB 857 which reauthorizes and moves CHIP from the Insurance Department into the Department of Human Services. This move has streamlined processes and reduced bureaucracy for families throughout the commonwealth.
I am committed to protecting all Pennsylvanians' right to affordable, straightforward, accessible healthcare. One of my first acts in office was to expand Medicaid, which gave over 720,000 Pennsylvanians health care. I have also been working with a bipartisan group of governors to develop a plan to improve our nation's health system performance to make it more affordable and accessible for all.