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Office of the First Lady

For Immediate Release April 20, 1999
                            April 20, 1999

Today, at a speech at Hofstra University, First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton announced that the Department of Health and Human Services is reporting that almost one million children enrolled in the State Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in 1998. The President worked with the Congress to enact CHIP in 1997 as part of the Balanced Budget Agreement. It provides $24 billion dollars over five years for health insurance for children. This enrollment in CHIP, combined with efforts to sign up the millions of eligible but unenrolled children in Medicaid, shows significant progress in meeting the President's goal of reducing the number of uninsured children in the United States by 5 million.

PROGRESS TOWARD REDUCING NUMBER OF UNINSURED CHILDREN. The Department of Health and Human Services released estimates today that show:

Almost one million children enrolled in CHIP during 1998. In its first release of state enrollment data, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reported that approximately 982,000 children enrolled in CHIP in the 43 states with programs operating during 1998. This indicates that states met the HHS enrollment estimates for 1998 and that states are well on their way to enrolling their target of 2.5 million children by 2000.

Almost equal enrollment in Medicaid and separate state programs. CHIP enables States to insure children from working families with incomes too high to qualify for Medicaid through non-Medicaid State programs, Medicaid expansions, or a combination of both programs. Slightly more children were enrolled in the separate state programs. Of the approximately 982,000, approximately 540,000 were in separate programs while approximately 442,000 were in Medicaid expansions adopted by the states.

Enrollment will continue to increase as states fully implement their plans. Seven programs (ID, IL, IN, MA, OH, OK, and PR) were enrolling children throughout the entire year and 10 out of the 43 programs did not start enrolling children until after October 1. The 10 CHIP programs that have been operating the longest (Alabama, California, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Puerto Rico) are responsible for about 34 percent of the total enrollment. The average enrollment period was about 6 months. Given the challenges of setting up major new programs, many states are just beginning to enroll children in CHIP.

New children are enrolling in the traditional Medicaid. Although CHIP is its centerpiece, the President's initiative to reduce the number of uninsured children also included policies to increase enrollment of poor children in Medicaid. According to the NGA, 26 states have opted for "strategies such as continuous eligibility" and 12 states use "presumptive eligibility" -- both of which were included in the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 to increase traditional Medicaid enrollment. Additionally, families that apply for CHIP but whose children are eligible for the traditional Medicaid will have their children automatically enrolled. Finally, outreach efforts by the Administration, states, and the private sector have not focused solely on CHIP -- they have also included Medicaid. Information on traditional Medicaid enrollment will be available later this year.



One of the highest priorities of the Administration -- as well as the nation's Governors and the bipartisan Congress -- has been reducing the number of uninsured children. To ensure that every eligible child benefits from Medicaid and the new Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the President launched a public-private outreach campaign. Highlights of this campaign include:

Engaging the private sector in the nationwide "Insure Kids Now" Outreach Campaign. One of the major barriers to insuring children is education: too many families do not know that their children may be eligible. To get the word out, the nation's top media organizations, corporations, and non-profits have teamed up to launch a nationwide campaign. It includes:

     "1-877-KIDS NOW" Hotline.  The National Governors Association, Bell
     Atlantic, and the Administration have together launched 1-877 KIDS
     NOW, a new toll-free number to provide state-specific information
     about Medicaid and CHIP to families in all 50 states.

     Public service announcements on national television and radio.
     NBC, ABC, Univision, the National Association of Broadcasters,
     Black Entertainment Television, and Viacom/Paramount are airing
     public service announcements promoting the toll-free number.  Radio
     ads on Insure Kids Now will also be run nationwide.

     Printing the Insure Kids Now toll-free number on products.
     Building on a series of commitments made in 1998, K-Mart, General
     Motors, the American Dental Hygienists Association, among others,
     have pledged to put the new toll-free number on grocery bags,
     toothbrushes, diaper boxes, pharmaceutical products, child safety
     seats, and school buses.

Finding families through other Federal programs. Recognizing that millions of low-income, working families come in contact with Federal programs, the President ordered nearly a dozen agencies to develop strategies to educate families about health insurance for children. These agencies formed a Task Force that has identified and started implementing over 150 actions to help enroll uninsured children. Examples of actions include:

     Encouraging states and schools to distribute information
     through the 94,000 school lunch programs that serve 15 million 

     Educating 6 million families in low-income housing programs
     through 3,400 Public Housing Authorities and 25,000 owners and
     managers of multi-family properties.

     Distributing 145,000 posters with the Insure Kids Now toll
     free number to over 20,000 health centers.

Reducing and eliminating barriers to enrollment. Throughout 1998, the Administration provided guidance and examples of how to streamline the application and enrollment process, making it easier for families to sign up their children. Last month, HHS also released new guidance on ensuring Medicaid coverage for families and children affected by welfare reform. Efforts will continue to strip away all unnecessary administrative barriers.

Investing in children's health insurance outreach. The President's FY 2000 budget includes about $1 billion over 5 years for outreach efforts. New funds will enable states to simplify enrollment systems, educate community members, outstation eligibility workers, and conduct other efforts that identify and enroll uninsured children in Medicaid and CHIP.