By Tony Romeo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Pennsylvania Senate has passed and sent to the House a bill that would re-authorize the state’s health insurance program for children of low-income families and drop a six-month waiting period for enrollment.

Erik Arneson, spokesman for the state Senate majority leader, says the six-month waiting period to enroll in the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) was originally imposed due to concerns that without it, employers would have an incentive to drop insurance coverage for the children of employees:

“Given the changes at the federal level with the Affordable Care Act…given the changes that are coming with the health insurance exchanges, it makes sense now to eliminate that because we don’t believe that that’s going to be an issue going forward. So there’s no longer a logical reason to have a six-month waiting period.”

The bill now goes to the House.

One change mandated by the new federal health care law is that thousands of Pennsylvania children currently in the CHIP program will have to shift to Medicaid. The feds earlier this month rejected the state’s request for an exemption.