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Pennsylvania DHS Now Oversees Children's Health Insurance Program

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Pennsylvania's Children's Health Insurance Program covers dental and vision care, as well as medical care.

As families enrolled in Medicaid transition to the Children's Health Insurance Program, it is important for them to know Pennsylvania has changed how it will process enrollees.

Becky Ludwick, vice president of public policy for the group Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, said families who want to enroll their children should be aware starting today, the Department of Human Services is going to be deciding who qualifies for the program.

She emphasized they are very concerned about the timing the department has chosen to make changes in the midst of the Medicaid unwinding.

"They're going to be processing all new applications for CHIP, as well as all of the renewals for the more than 130,000 CHIP families that are currently enrolled," Ludwick noted. "As of Monday, CHIP families will need to go through DHS instead of the CHIP health insurance plans to determine eligibility."

Ludwick pointed out a number of different ways families can enroll such as via phone or the county assistance offices, or online applications through the Department of Human Service's Compass website, as well as the Compass mobile app.

Ludwick explained the program can cover any uninsured child who is not eligible for the state Medical Assistance or Medicaid programs. She noted no family makes or earns too much money to qualify for CHIP, and the state determines which families are eligible to receive no-cost monthly coverage.

"There's a free level where families don't pay any monthly premium or any copays," Ludwick explained. "Actually, the majority of families fall into that category. But then there are other categories of CHIP where they would have to pay a small fee for their child to be enrolled."

Ludwick said there is no deadline to sign up for CHIP. It is an ongoing process, so families can enroll year round. She stressed with continuous coverage, and some provisions ending, there is a lot going on right now in the health insurance landscape, and they are working to get the word out, so families know where to go to sign up for CHIP.