Pennsylvania Senate Republican News Brief


“House Bill 108 does exactly what the governor is advocating,” Senator White said. “Not only does it extend the CHIP program, this bill removes the six-month prohibition, providing immediate access to the quality care that the children of our commonwealth deserve.”

Senate Banking and Insurance Committee Chairman Don White (R-Indiana) on Senate passage of legislation extending the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).


Preview

Senate Session Monday at 1 p.m.

Three more bills in the Child Protection Package are set to receive committee consideration this week.

On Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery), will consider Senate Bill 28, legislation strengthening an array of state child abuse laws. (Tues., 11:30 a.m. Rm. 8E-B)

The Senate Communications and Technology Committee, chaired by Sen. Randy Vulakovich (R-Allegheny), is scheduled to vote on Senate Bill 24, establishing a Statewide Database of Protective Services, and Senate Bill 26, creating a three-digit, statewide number for reporting child abuse or for children in need of protective services. (Wed., 9:30 a.m. Rm. 8E-B)

Hearing Set on Rural Community College Initiative

A Senate proposal to increase post-secondary educational opportunities in underserved Pennsylvania counties will be reviewed by the Senate Education Committee, chaired by Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon).

The hearing will focus on the need for rural regional community colleges and Senate Bill 1000, sponsored by Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson), which would create a public community college initiative in rural Pennsylvania.

Testifiers will include the North Central Workforce Investment Board, American Refining Group Inc., the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges, the state Department of Education, and the Rural Community College Alliance. (Wed., 1 p.m. Rm. 1 N. Office Bldg.)

Watch this committee activity live at PASenateGOP.com.
Senate Committee Schedule

Review

Senate Acts to Extend Children’s Health Insurance Program

The Senate on Wednesday approved House Bill 108, legislation reauthorizing and extending the life of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) through December 31, 2015, and getting children covered sooner. The bill returns to the House of Representatives for concurrence on Senate amendments.

The measure was approved by the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee, chaired by Sen. Don White (R-Indiana), earlier this year.

CHIP provides health insurance to all uninsured children and teens who are not eligible for or enrolled in Medical Assistance. Coverage is free for families below income limits, with families earning more paying monthly premiums and co-pays for some services.

As part of his HealthyPA initiative, Governor Corbett has called on the Legislature to reauthorize the CHIP program and remove the current requirement for children to go six months without insurance before becoming eligible. For more on CHIP, please see Fast Facts, below.
Senator White

Aging and Youth Committee Moves Child Protection Bills

The Senate Aging and Youth Committee, chaired by Sen. Bob Mensch (R-Montgomery), approved a series of bills Tuesday to provide sweeping improvements to Pennsylvania’s child protection laws.

The bills are part of a bipartisan package of legislation introduced following the recommendations of the Pennsylvania Task Force on Child Protection, created by the passage of Senate Resolution 250 in December 2011. The panel held a series of public meetings and released its report in November 2012.

Senator Mensch: “These laws are long overdue for review and update. We’ve learned from the work of the Pennsylvania Task Force on Child Protection and from hearing testimony what needs to be done, and committee approval is an important step in this critical process.”

For a rundown of Child Protection bills moved out of committee, please see In the Spotlight, below.
Committee Video

Alloway Proposal Would Strengthen PA Dog Law

Sen. Richard Alloway (R-Franklin) introduced legislation to strengthen the state’s Dog Law and prevent animal cruelty.

Senate Bill 1107 will target kennel owners who lose their license due to violations of the Dog Law.

The legislation would prevent violators from continuing to operate a kennel by having a license issued to an immediate family member or another individual who resides at the same address.

In the Spotlight

The measures approved by the Senate Aging and Youth Committee are part of bipartisan package unveiled in March aimed at overhauling Pennsylvania’s child protection laws.

Bills approved by committee were:

  • Senate Bill 20 updates the definition of “child abuse” and provides exclusions.
  • Senate Bill 21 clarifies who is a “mandatory reporter” of child abuse.
  • Senate Bill 22 increases penalties for failure to report child abuse.
  • Senate Bill 23 updates the definition of “perpetrator” and expands definition of “person responsible for a child’s welfare.”
  • Senate Bill 27 improves the exchange of information among medical practitioners and county agencies.
  • Senate Bill 30 establishes accountability and due process protections for individuals working with delinquent children in juvenile detention facilities and residential rehabilitative institutions.
  • Senate Bill 33 provides employee whistleblower protection for child abuse reporting.

Senator Mensch : “The renewed focus on child abuse in Pennsylvania over the last year has provided a serious challenge, and opportunity, to help implement comprehensive reforms that will improve child protection, especially at the point when someone first suspects child abuse to the time when an investigation is initiated and in progress.”

Fast Facts

PA Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)

  • CHIP covers uninsured children and teens up to age 19 who are not eligible for Medical Assistance. There is no income limit.
  • Families making $46,100 per year qualify for free CHIP. Families with incomes above the free CHIP limits pay monthly premiums and co-pays for some services.
  • CHIP is provided by private health insurance companies licensed and regulated by the Pennsylvania Insurance Department.
  •  Once enrolled, children are guaranteed 12 months of CHIP coverage unless they no longer meet the basic eligibility requirements. Families must renew their coverage every year in order for the coverage to continue.