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Kids Can Remain Covered in CHIP Buy-In Program Through 2015

February 13, 2015

Safe Harbor for Families Enrolled in Full-Cost CHIP

HARRISBURG, PA – Today, the Wolf Administration announced a safe harbor for approximately 3,600 families enrolled in the CHIP buy-in program, allowing families to keep their coverage throughout 2015 without facing a tax penalty. Governor Wolf and Acting Insurance Commissioner Teresa Miller also affirmed their commitment to work with insurers and lawmakers to bring benefits in the CHIP buy-in program into compliance with new federal standards.

A recent review by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) of CHIP benefits revealed deficiencies in the full-cost program that disqualified it from meeting the standard of minimum essential coverage. Families enrolled in the CHIP buy-in program were informed earlier this year of the need to move their children into other coverage that does meet minimum essential coverage requirements or face a tax penalty.

Last week, Governor Wolf and Acting Insurance Commissioner Teresa Miller announced that they had successfully negotiated an extension of the enrollment deadline and an exemption from the tax penalty for these 3,600 families through April 15th, giving families an extra two months to find other coverage. Today that exemption was extended to cover the entire year of 2015, which means that families with children currently enrolled in full-cost CHIP can stay in that plan without facing a tax penalty. 

Antoinette Kraus, director of the Pennsylvania Health Access Network, released the following statement in response:

“The Wolf Administration has stepped up to ease disruption, confusion and panic among the 3,600 families enrolled in the CHIP buy-in program who are just now learning that full-cost CHIP does not meet new federal standards for minimum essential coverage. Negotiating an exemption for the entire year of 2015 gives Pennsylvania time to ensure sure CHIP’s buy in plan meets federal requirements moving forward. 

As a navigator, we are there to support families and provide them with the information they need. Our enrollment assisters are available weekdays, evenings, and weekends to help any family who has questions about the exemption process. Families are encouraged to call our Helpline at 1-877-570-3642. 

An insurance plan that doesn’t offer minimum essential coverage exposes families to maximum financial risk. When a CHIP plan does not meet mimum essential requirments, both the physical health of children and the financial health of their families is put at risk. That’s why it’s critical that all CHIP plans meet minimum federal standards. 

We look forward to working with Governor Wolf, Acting Insurance Commissioner Teresa Miller, the General Assembly, children’s health advocates and the federal government to bring all CHIP plans into compliance with new standards.”