HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania House of Representatives today passed legislation to renew the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, without language to prohibit coverage of some procedures for transgender youth. The provision to ban coverage of transition-related surgical procedures was amended into the bill by the state Senate but was removed in a House committee before today’s final vote of the entire chamber.
“Today’s House vote was a victory for Pennsylvania’s children,” said Reggie Shuford, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, which opposed the transgender discrimination language inserted by the Senate. “The healthcare of young people is not a football to be used for political games.
“We are grateful that the House did the right thing to protect the insurance coverage of hundreds of thousands of children in the commonwealth.”
By coincidence, today is Transgender Day of Remembrance, an annual memorial day for transgender people who have been victims of violent, transphobic crime and to raise awareness of violence endured by trans people.
Because the bill, House Bill 1388, was altered again, it must return to the state Senate for a concurrence vote. Today’s vote was the second time that the House had passed a clean reauthorization of CHIP. The House unanimously passed the bill in June.
In October, the state Senate added the language to ban some coverage for transgender youth.
“The House has now voted twice to renew CHIP,” said Elizabeth Randol, legislative director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. “Using insurance coverage for children as a tool for harming transgender youth is despicable. It’s time for the Senate to stop playing games and send the governor a clean renewal of CHIP.”
The legislation will renew CHIP through the end of 2019. Without legislative action, the program is scheduled to expire on December 31.
“The hurt this kind of effort causes in the transgender community is deep,” said Naiymah Sanchez, transgender advocacy coordinator for the ACLU of Pennsylvania. “Going after our kids is as low as it gets. The legislature should continue to reject discrimination against transgender youth, whether it’s in this bill or repackaged in another bill.”