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February 18, 1998

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"It shouldn't take a miracle to ensure that all children get the care and insurance they need to stay healthy. America's health care system is the finest in the world. But for millions of hard-working families, affording even the most basic health insurance has been nearly impossible. At the same time, millions of families who are already eligible still do not know they qualify for Medicaid. Last summer's historic balanced budget agreement gave us an unprecedented opportunity to change this situation, to bring health insurance to more of our children and peace of mind to their parents."

President Bill Clinton

Today, President Clinton announces the first major state coverage expansions under the recently enacted Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and released information showing that many States will soon follow. He also unveils an unprecedented set of public/private initiatives designed to enroll the millions of uninsured children who are eligible but not enrolled in Medicaid and other state-based children's health programs.

Over 10 million children in America are uninsured. Nearly 90 percent of these children have parents who work, but do not have access to or cannot afford health insurance. Over 3 million of these uninsured children are already eligible for Medicaid. However, many families are not aware that their children are eligible for Medicaid, and others have difficulty filling out the application. With these challenges in mind, the President:

ANNOUNCES THE FIRST COVERAGE EXPANSIONS UNDER THE NEW CHIP PROGRAM. Today, the President announces that Colorado and South Carolina join Alabama as the first states to come into the children's health program. The President also announces that many more States are well on their way to expanding coverage to more uninsured children. Currently, 14 states have submitted plans to HHS for approval, and another 18 States have active working groups or task forces to design plans to address the needs of uninsured children.

RELEASES A NEW PRESIDENTIAL DIRECTIVE TO ENROLL UNINSURED CHILDREN. In an executive memorandum to seven Federal agencies with jurisdiction over children's programs - the Departments of Agriculture, Interior, Education, HHS, HUD, Interior, Labor, and Treasury and the Social Security Administration -- the President directs the establishment of a multi-agency effort to enroll uninsured children.

HIGHLIGHTS BUDGET PROPOSALS THAT PROVIDE MEDICAID ENROLLMENT INCENTIVES. The President's FY 1999 budget invests $900 million over 5 years in children's health outreach policies, including the use of schools and child care centers to enroll children in Medicaid. It also expands the use of a federally-financed administrative fund so that it can underwrite the costs for all uninsured children - not just the limited population allowed under current law.

ANNOUNCES AN HISTORIC PRIVATE SECTOR COMMITMENT TO PROVIDE OUTREACH. To complement the public outreach effort, the President announces unprecedented new contributions from the private sector to help ensure that all children who are eligible for health insurance receive it, including:

A new toll-free number that directs families around the nation to their state enrollment centers; Over $23 million in commitments from private foundations across the country; New initiatives from corporate and advocacy organizations to reach out to uninsured children.

ISSUES A CHALLENGE TO AMERICA TO FIND NEW WAYS TO REACH UNINSURED CHILDREN. The President challenged every physician, nurse, health care provider, business, school, parent, grandparent, and community across the nation, to find new ways to ensure that uninsured children eligible for health insurance are enrolled in Medicaid or CHIP.

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