PA House votes to help kids by extending CHIP

Legislative Review


PA House votes to help kids by extending CHIP
But Republicans still ignoring the plight of many of their parents

Health coverage for all PA kids
This week, legislators in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives voted unanimously to extend the state's popular and highly successful Children's Health Insurance Program for another two years. The program was set to expire on Dec. 31 – the extension is through December 2017. The bill now goes to the state Senate for consideration. 

CHIP offers affordable health coverage to all children in Pennsylvania who are not eligible for Medicaid. Parents can access CHIP at low cost or no cost, depending on family income. CHIP offers an extensive menu of benefits, including immunizations, prescriptions and wellness visits; dental, vision and hearing services; and hospitalization, mental health and rehabilitation services. More information about CHIP is available here:

Republicans continue to stall minimum wage progress
In other news, Democratic state Rep. Patty Kim continues to push for consideration and passage of her legislation (H.B. 250) that would raise the minimum wage in Pennsylvania to $10.10 an hour. So far, Republicans have balked. Yet, just this week, a new study by the Keystone Research Center showed that increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour would help more than 1.2 million low-wage workers in Pennsylvania. 

In an editorial this week, the Scranton Times-Tribune noted that in northeastern Pennsylvania, where nearly a quarter of minimum wage earners are married or single parents, low wages are contributing to that region's economic woes. A 40-hour work week at the minimum wage still leaves a parent and child in poverty. Pennsylvania is the only state in the Mid-Atlantic and most of the entire Northeast not to have raised its minimum wage. That needs to change. 

Washington, D.C. on the Susquehanna?
Finally this week, the state Senate, led by Republicans, voted to politicize Pennsylvania's rule-making process. Their changes would make it much easier for a single lawmaker to halt the process in its tracks for partisan reasons – or no reason at all. It's ironic the Senate passed this bill the same week the Auditor General revealed that lack of timely rulemaking resulted in a lack of protection for health workers and patients under the state's 2008 mandatory overtime law. Republicans didn't seem concerned about the rule-making process when this lapse happened during Gov. Corbett's watch. But now a Democratic governor is in place. It appears Republicans have decided it's time to imitate their obstructionist mentors in Washington, D.C. and bring Pennsylvania government to a crawl or complete standstill.