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President Clinton Signs Children's Health Act of 2000

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President Clinton Signs Children's Health Act of 2000

October 17, 2000

President Clinton Signs Children's Health Act of 2000

Building on eight years of improving the quality of health care for our nation's children, today President Clinton signed into law the Children's Health Act of 2000. This bipartisan legislation authorizes expanded research and services for a variety of childhood health problems, reauthorizes programs of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), addresses the problem of youth substance abuse and the violence associated with it, and works to improve the health and safety of children in child care. The Clinton-Gore Administration has made unprecedented strides in improving the quality and access of children's health care by: enacting the largest single investment in children's health care since 1965; raising childhood immunization rates to an all-time high; and increasing access to care to more than 2.5 million previously uninsured children. Today's action expands on these steps to ensure the health and well-being of our nation's future leaders.

PROMOTING NEW RESEARCH AND TREATMENT FOR CHILDREN'S HEALTH. Because of the longstanding commitment of the Clinton-Gore Administration, and the leadership of First Lady Hillary Clinton, the National Institute of Health (NIH) currently supports the highest levels of research ever on nearly all types of disease and health conditions, making breakthroughs possible in vaccine development and the treatment of chronic and acute disease. However, more needs to be done. The Children's Health Act of 2000 expands, intensifies, and coordinates research, prevention, and treatment activities for diseases and conditions having a disproportionate or significant impact on children, including autism, diabetes, asthma, hearing loss, epilepsy, traumatic brain injuries, infant mortality, lead poisoning, and oral health.

  • Special focus on autism research. The legislation authorizes Centers of Excellence at both NIH and the Centers for Disease Control to promote research on the cause, diagnosis, early detection, prevention, control, and treatment of autism.
  • Training of Physicians Who Care for Children. The legislation also extends the authorization of funds through 2005 to reimburse freestanding children's hospitals that train health professionals a priority of this Administration.
  • Research on child development and the environment. This bill authorizes new research provisions, which will increase our understanding of children's health, including a long-term development study on environmental influences on children's health and a loan repayment program at NIH for health professionals conducting pediatric research.
  • Authorizing Healthy Start for the first time. Finally, this bill takes the long overdue step of authorizing the Healthy Start demonstration program, which is designed to reduce the rate of infant mortality and improve birth outcomes in targeted communities by expanding access to health care services for pregnant women and infants in targeted communities.

IMPROVING THE HEALTH AND SAFETY OF CHILD CARE CENTERS. The President's Child Care initiative, outlined in his 1998 State of the Union address and spearheaded by the First Lady, included investments to help make child care more affordable for working parents, improve its quality, and strengthen enforcement of state health and safety standards. The legislation the President will sign today supports his Child Care initiative by providing greater assurance to the millions of parents who rely on child care providers during the workday that their children are receiving child care that protects their safety and health. The Children's Day Care Health and Safety Act, a component of the Children's Health Act, will provide grants to states to improve the safety and health of child care by: training and educating child care providers on preventing injuries and illnesses; improving state health and safety standards; improving enforcement of standards, including increased unannounced inspections; renovating child care facilities to meet health and safety standards; enhancing child care providers' ability to serve children with disabilities; and conducting criminal background checks on child care providers.

ENSURING SAFE AND QUALITY MENTAL HEALTH TREATMENT. This legislation requires providers to inform the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) of: any death that occurs when it is reasonable to assume that the death was caused by the use of restraints or seclusion; deaths that occur while a patient is restrained or in seclusion; and deaths that occur within 24 hours after a patient is restrained. Failure to comply with these requirements will disqualify these facilities from participation in any program supported in whole or in part by the Public Health Service Act. These new reporting and enforcement requirements build on regulations released by HHS last year, sponsored by Senator Lieberman and championed by Tipper Gore, that provide critical new protections to individuals with mental illness receiving care in all hospitals participating in the Medicare program.

REAUTHORIZING THE SUBSTANCE ABUSE AND MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES ADMINISTRATION. The reauthorization of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration will improve mental health and substance abuse services for Americans of all ages by ensuring the continuation of grants that promote research on mental health issues; training grants to educate providers about the best ways to serve those in need; funds to support communities in need of additional services; and system change grants to support family and consumer networks in states. The bill also includes critical provisions that will help to curb drug and alcohol use, especially among our nations's youth. Although the substance abuse treatment gap has narrowed, far too many people still cannot get the treatment they need. This bill takes a comprehensive approach to addressing illegal drug abuse, beginning with the reauthorization of the Substance Abuse Block Grant, as well as the authorization of several grant programs targeted to youth drug treatment and early intervention. It provides states more flexibility in the use of block grant funds in exchange for accountability based on performance.

COMBATING YOUTH AND ADULT DRUG USE. The bill will help to combat the use and spread of the dangerous emerging drugs of methamphetamine and Ecstasy by providing important new support for law enforcement. Among other provisions, the bill includes investigative training on clandestine methamphetamine laboratories, additional resources for High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas, and strengthened punishment for meth lab operators, and amphetamine and Ecstasy traffickers. The legislation also creates a Methamphetamine and Amphetamine Treatment Initiative at the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, provides for additional research to treat addiction to these dangerous drugs, and establishes prevention grants to teach children about the dangers of meth, Ecstasy, and inhalants. This legislation will build on the Administration's National Methamphetamine Strategy as well as overall efforts to reduce drug abuse, including the Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, and the historic expansion of drug courts that have been shown to reduce future drug use and recidivism.

SUPPORTING A COMPREHENSIVE RESPONSE TO SCHOOL SAFETY AND YOUTH VIOLENCE. To help communities promote school safety, this bill provides additional funding for the Safe Schools/Healthy Students Initiative. The SS/HS Initiative is an unprecedented effort to give students, schools and communities comprehensive educational, mental health, social service, and law enforcement services. The Center for Mental Health Services supports this initiative in partnership with the Departments of Justice and Education.

BUILDING ON A RECORD TO IMPROVE CHILDREN'S HEALTH. The Clinton-Gore Administration has led an aggressive effort over the last 8 years to ensure our nation's children receive the care they need. Though more must be done to ensure that all children have access to high-quality health care, these efforts have resulted in record improvements:

  • Enacted single largest investment in children's health care since 1965 with the State Children's Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP) -- providing meaningful health care coverage to 2.5 million previously uninsured children.
  • Enacted legislation to help young people leaving foster care remain eligible for Medicaid up to age 21, thus maintaining health care coverage.
  • Enacted legislation to extend the availability of the $500 million fund for children's health outreach for states to use towards the costs of simplifying their eligibility systems and conducting enrollment outreach.
  • Issued regulation requiring drug companies to provide adequate testing to ensure that prescription drugs safely satisfy the unique needs of children.
  • Launched new effort to increase childhood immunizations, resulting in all-time high rates with 90 percent or more of America's toddlers receiving critical vaccines by age 2, nearly eliminating racial and ethnic disparities.
  • Launched new public-private effort to ensure that children with emotional and behavioral conditions are appropriately diagnosed, treated, and monitored by enhancing parent education, research and improved pediatric labeling.
  • Initiated national strategy to fight childhood asthma, launched by First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, which enhanced school-based and state-wide disease management programs, research and public information campaigns.

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