Many children in Warren County depend on the Pennsylvania CHIP, the commonwealth's version of SCHIP (State Children's Health Insurance Program), for medical benefits.
According to the Pennsylvania CHIPS's website, 593 Warren County children are currently enrolled in the program.
The program, which began in 1997, is a federal-state partnership that serves families making too much to qualify for Medicaid but struggling to afford private insurance.
However, reauthorization at the federal level is needed to keep the program going. SCHIP was scheduled for authorization in 2007. Congress twice passed reauthorization legislation but the measures were vetoed. Congress and then president George W. Bush ultimately agreed to extend the program with provisions for additional funding through March 31, 2009.
With the deadline approaching, the bill was passed by the House nearly two weeks ago by a vote of 289-139. Forty Republicans notched votes in favor of the measure.
One of the 40 republicans was Glenn Thompson representing the 5th Congressional District.
"The Children's Health Insurance Program bill wasn't perfect," Thompson said in a statement following the vote.
"This was a vote I cast for the kids," he said. "In this time of economic unrest, there are undoubtedly families across the Fifth District that cannot afford health insurance for their children and unfortunately fall through the cracks this legislation will hopefully provide these families with a safety net."
As a patient advocate in Central Pennsylvania, Thompson supported and advocated the original version of the program in 1997.
"There's kids that will be kept alive because with this coverage they will able to get health care services early," he said. "They will be able to get diagnosis to meet developmental problems."
Representing the 3rd district, Congresswoman Kathy Dahlkemper not only voted in favor of the bill, she also co-sponsored it.
Dahlkemper mirrored Thompson's correlation between the failing economy and the need for SCHIP.
"During these tough economic times, when millions of Americans are losing their jobs and health care, it is essential that the bipartisan SCHIP program be expanded without further delay," she said. "Providing health coverage for 11 million children is not only the right thing to do it's more cost-effective for taxpayers than using the emergency room as a primary care provider."
As of Thursday, the fate of SCHIP was still hanging in the balance as Senate republicans disputed the expanding of the program Monday by arguing the bill would draw children away from private insurance into government-sponsored coverage.
Another point of contention was a provision, approved by the House, that lets states use Medicaid or SCHIP to cover children of legal immigrants. Under current law, there is a five-year waiting period before legal immigrants become eligible for coverage under either program.
To fund the expansion of the program, lawmakers have proposed increasing the federal excise tax on a pack of cigarettes by $.061. Other tobacco products would taxed at a higher rate as well.