By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, has had broad bipartisan support for two decades. But now it’s become a political football, both at the federal level and in Harrisburg.

A Republican state senator amended a bill reauthorizing the program to restrict treatment for transgender youth.

Senator Don White’s office provided this recording of his position:

“I don’t think in any way, shape, or form that covering gender reassignment surgery should be part of the CHIP program,” White said.

His amendment prohibiting the use of CHIP funds for that purpose must now go back to the state House.

It had already passed re-authorization, so the effect of the amendment is a delay that Donna Cooper of Public Citizens for Children and Youth argues is unnecessary.

“Gender reassignment surgery is not something responsible physicians are prescribing for children, so this is an issue in search of a problem,” she said.

Cooper laments the politicization of CHIP. The program has also gotten caught in the federal health care debate.

Funding for it expired last month, and Congress so far has failed to reauthorize the next round.

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