TRANSGENDER YOUTH IN CHIP
CHIPPING AWAY AT OUR EQUALITY
The Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) covers uninsured children up to the last day they are eighteen years old across the nation. Nationally, Congress matches funds which individual states put up for this program. This means that despite Congress letting CHIP lapse nationally, states still have remaining resources to continue covering kids. Over 168,000 youth in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania are beneficiaries of this program.
In May 2017, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives voted unanimously to pass HB 1388 which is the annual funding of CHIP. However, it was then sent to the Pennsylvania Senate's Insurance Committee. There, mid-October, Senator Donald White added an amendment banning CHIP from covering gender re-assignment surgery and transition services, including counseling and prescription medication. Several groups came out against this unnecessary change including Front & Centre. Many of these groups, like Equality Pennsylvania, asked why Senate Majority Leader Senator Jake Corman would allow a vote on this. Senator Jake Corman is, also, the representative for the entirety of Centre County. He allowed for the bill to enter the Senate with this radical amendment, which passed 37-13. It returned to the House for final passage.
Keep the Receipts
On Transgender Day of Remembrance, 20 November, the House unanimously voted to pass the original version of HB 1388. They prevented a flagrant attack on transgender people—specifically targeting the least-resourceful of them—which Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman allowed to enter the Senate.
We urged residents to find out who represents them in the House of Representatives in order to contact them about HB 1388, as well as to contact Jake Corman to voice their opinion. Front & Centre took action into its own hands, contacting all four Centre representatives through certified mail on 4 December, asking whether they would have voted to fund CHIP with the discriminatory provision still instated and whether they believe their constituents are equal, regardless of their gender identity. On 11 December, HB 1388 passed the Senate without the amendment.
Representative White's amendment was a gateway towards discrimination of the most helpless people in our society. It failed, but has now opened a gateway to weaponize CHIP and enact prejudice against people because of who they are in the future. Issues like these are the very areas why Front & Centre exists: to promote and expand LGBTQA rights instead of condemning and repealing them.
Beginning in March, we began replying to every Facebook post and tweet from Representatives Kerry Benninghoff, Mike Hanna, and Rich Irvin to publicly inform their followers of their delay in answering our questionnaire. In June, we found our Facebook replies could not be found. We began embedding their responses on our website and then copied their pages to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine.
WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE
Representative Scott Conklin was the sole member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives to have replied to our letter. His response can be read below.
Last Updated: 29 October 2018