Harrisburg-State Rep. Julie Harhart (R-Lehigh/Northampton) says a report by the Pennsylvania Medicaid Policy Center reveals both Medical Assistance (MA) and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) have experience increased enrollment over the past year in Lehigh and Northampton counties.

"With unemployment rates at historic highs, many families have lost their health benefits and, therefore, have a greater need for these types of health insurance programs than ever before," said Harhart. "I am hopeful that as the economy rebounds, more individuals and families are able to gain health coverage under their employer's benefits and deflect the final strain this increase in the system will pose to taxpayers."

Medical Assistance pays for medical and long-term care for eligible low-income individuals through a combination of state and federal funds. In Fiscal Year 2009, MA enrollment increased by 7.6 percent in Northampton County to cover a total of 35,153 individuals, and by 3.1 percent in Lehigh County to cover a total of 56,579 individuals.

CHIP is separate from MA and provides government-financed health coverage to eligible low-income children. In Fiscal Year 2009, enrollment in CHIP increased by 14 percent in Northampton County to cover a total of 4,200 children, and by 13.5 percent in Lehigh County to cover a total of 5,826 children.

"I encourage those families and individuals who are in need of health care coverage to contact my offices to determine eligibility for these programs," said Harhart.

For more information on MA or CHIP, please visit Harhart's district offices at 2030 Center Street in Northampton, telephone (610) 502-2701 or Slatington Borough Hall, 125 S. Walnut Street, in Slatington, telephone (610) 760-9805.

The Pennsylvania Medicaid Policy Center is an independent and non-partisan source of information and analysis about the Commonwealth's MA program.