THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT
Today, marks the one-year anniversary of the new Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). This historic effort -- which I called for in my 1997 State of the Union and signed into law last summer as part of the historic bipartisan Balanced Budget Act -- is the largest children's health coverage expansion since the enactment of Medicaid over 30 years ago. CHIP provides $24 billion to help states offer affordable health insurance to children in working families that make too much for Medicaid but too little to afford private coverage.
I am proud to announce that in its first year, nearly four out of five states are already participating in CHIP. A report released by the Department of Health and Human Services today finds that these state programs will provide health care coverage to over 2.3 million children when fully implemented. Many of these states have indicated they will expand their programs to even more children, and the remaining states have proposals that we expect to approve in the coming months.
However, much work remains to be done to improve the health of our nation's children. We must work to ensure that every child eligible for CHIP gets enrolled. Equally important, over 4 million uninsured children are eligible but not signed up for Medicaid. Educating families, simplifying the enrollment process, and making health insurance a national priority requires a sustained commitment from the public and the private sector. This has been and will continue to be a top priority for my Administration. I have directed twelve Federal agencies that serve children and families to reach out and enroll uninsured children and am extremely encouraged by our partnership with the states and the private sector to help meet this challenge.
We know that children with insurance are healthier -- getting more regular checkups, more routine immunizations, and fewer ear infections. On the one year birthday of CHIP, let us recommit ourselves to providing affordable health coverage to the millions of American children without insurance.