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February 23, 1999

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There are still far too many hard-working parents who simply don't know that their children may be eligible for health insurance--and we have to reach them. I believe we have an obligation to use every tool we possess, every resource at our disposal to meet this challenge.

President Bill Clinton
February 23, 1999

Today at the White House, President Clinton and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, joined by Governors Carper and Leavitt and Secretary Shalala, launched a nationwide "Insure Kids Now" campaign designed to enroll eligible but uninsured children in the new Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and Medicaid. This campaign will engage a broad-based, bipartisan, public-private coalition to use a variety of means to educate and assist families in insuring their children.

CHILDREN'S HEALTH INSURANCE INITIATIVE. Studies show that children without health insurance are more likely to be sick as newborns, less likely to be immunized as preschoolers, and less likely to receive medical treatment when they are injured. As a result, the President and First Lady have made improving children's health a priority.

  • Historic new options for children. In 1997, the President, with bipartisan Congressional support, created the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which devotes $24 billion over five years to children's health coverage. Today, 47 states have implemented CHIP; they expect to enroll over 2.5 million children by September 2000.
  • The challenge of enrolling children. Ensuring that all eligible children get enrolled in health insurance programs is a formidable challenge. Barriers like complicated applications and misinformation about eligibility criteria prevent uninsured children from getting the coverage they need. President Clinton has taken numerous actions to remove these barriers by encouraging states to streamline their application and enrollment processes, accept mail-in applications, and place eligibility workers in convenient locations.

NEW NATIONWIDE "INSURE KIDS NOW" OUTREACH CAMPAIGN. For the first time, major TV and radio networks, corporations, health care organizations, religious groups, and other community-based organizations will join federal agencies in disseminating information about children's health insurance.

  • Launching "1-877-KIDS NOW" Hotline. Today, Governors Carper and Leavitt unveiled a new toll-free number developed by the National Governors Association in partnership with Bell Atlantic and the Administration. This hotline will provide state-specific information about CHIP and Medicaid to families in all 50 states. Families calling this number will receive information about eligibility criteria, benefits, and how to apply for coverage.
  • Running public service announcements (PSAs) on national television. Beginning tomorrow, NBC, ABC, Univision, Turner Entertainment, the National Association of Broadcasters, Viacom/Paramount, and Black Entertainment Television will air PSAs providing information about the importance of health insurance and promoting the new "Insure Kids Now" hotline.
  • Airing radio advertisements. Today, HHS will begin funding radio ads on "Insure Kids Now" in 45 states and the District of Columbia. Later this year, Radio Disney and Bonneville will run similar ads nationwide.
  • Publishing information about "Insure Kids Now". This spring, USA Today will publish an editorial and Blue Cross/Blue Shield will publish a full-page ad in Time magazine on children's health insurance. Many corporations and organizations have agreed to put information in their product handbooks, circulars, and mass mailings.
  • Printing the toll-free number on commonly used products. K-Mart, General Motors, the American Dental Hygienists Association, and American Medical Response have pledged to put the toll-free number on grocery bags, toothbrushes, diaper boxes, pharmaceutical products, child safety seats, and school buses.
  • Expanding federal efforts. The President's FY2000 budget includes over $1.2 billion to assist states in children's health outreach activities. Also, the Federal Task Force on Children's Health has begun new outreach efforts, including the launch of the new "InsureKidsNow.gov'" web site.

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