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September 1, 1998

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Every child's birth is a birth of hope, and no nation can achieve its full promise if unemployment is low, but child poverty is high, if interest rates are low, but malnutrition and disease rates are too high.

Vice President Al Gore
September 1, 1998

Today, Vice President Al Gore welcomes the Children's Health Fund's National Child Health Caravan to the White House where he will unveil new efforts to target and enroll uninsured children in health care programs. The Vice President will also announce the launch of new health outreach and enrollment efforts by departments within the federal government, and the approval of Children's Health Insurance Programs (CHIP) in three states, bringing the total number of states with plans to implement CHIP to thirty-three.

The Need To Reach Uninsured Children. There are over four million children who are currently eligible but not enrolled in Medicaid and the possibility that hundreds of thousands more children will be eligible but not signed up as states implement CHIP. Recent studies show that uninsured children are more likely to be sick as newborns, less likely to be immunized, and less likely to receive treatment for recurring illnesses. In addition, there are particular challenges to enrolling children in rural areas, where 2.5 million of the nation's uninsured children live.

New Initiatives To Identify And Enroll Uninsured Children. In response to the public-private outreach initiative the President announced earlier this year, pharmacies, grocery stores, and other private companies are launching efforts to reach out to families with uninsured children. In June, the President signed an executive memorandum directing eight federal agencies to help sign up millions of uninsured children. Today, the Vice President announces new steps that agencies are taking in response to that directive:

  • Encouraging States To Work With School Lunch Programs That Serve 15 Million Children. The Department of Agriculture will distribute several model free and reduced price lunch application forms that states and schools may use to link families to state health insurance programs through school lunch programs that 15 million children -- many of whom are uninsured -- are enrolled in;
  • Encouraging Efforts To Reach 6 Million Families In Low-Income Housing Programs About Health Insurance. The Department of Housing and Urban Development will send information about CHIP and how to identify and enroll families eligible for Medicaid or CHIP to housing authorities, owners and managers of multi-family properties, and others who provide assistance to 6 million low-income households nationwide;
  • Utilizing Employees Who Work With Earned Income Tax Credit And Other Low-Income Programs To Educate Families About CHIP and Medicaid. Secretary of Treasury Robert Rubin is sending a memorandum to 158,000 employees encouraging their participation in efforts to target and enroll children in CHIP and Medicaid.

Nearly Two-Thirds Of All States Now Have Approved Children's Health Insurance Programs. The Vice President will announce that the Secretary of Health and Human Services approved three new states today -- Delaware, Iowa, and Kansas -- for CHIP, providing health coverage for tens of thousands of uninsured children. With these approvals, 33 states and Puerto Rico have approved plans that expect to cover over 2 million children when fully implemented.

Renewing Successful Rural Health Projects. Roughly 2.5 million uninsured children in America live in rural areas. Today, the Vice President will announce that HHS will renew projects that reach out to children in underserved rural areas. In addition, the Vice President will urge Congress to pass the President's Rural Outreach Initiative, which would provide resources to up to ten rural communities nationwide to train local citizens in providing outreach services to residents in hard-to-reach populations.

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