Monday, July 10, 2000
Today, at the National Governors' Association summer conference, President Clinton challenged Congress to reject fiscally irresponsible tax cuts that would threaten investments in urgent health care priorities. The President highlighted the progress states have made in extending affordable insurance for more than 2 million children, and encouraged the nation's governors to continue to work aggressively to enroll all those eligible for Medicaid and State Children's Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP). In addition, the President reiterated his opposition to Congressional proposals to reduce state funding for S-CHIP and state welfare programs, released a report promoting school-based outreach, and announce that the Department of Health and Human Services will issue guidance this month on approving S-CHIP 1115 demonstration waivers that expand coverage to uninsured children and their parents.
Congressional tax plans would jeopardize critical investments in health care. The tax cuts already passed by the House would spend over $550 billion of the surplus, and if the Republican Congress continues on this path, they could pass tax cuts that would spend the entire on-budget surplus and more, leaving no money for America's priorities, including crucial investments in health care.
Taking Medicare off-budget and investing in health care. Now that the federal government is on a fiscally sound path, Medicaid and Medicare programs have become more efficient, and the life of the Medicare Trust Fund has been secured for a quarter century, the President issued a prescription for maintaining fiscal discipline while investing in health care which includes:
- Following the Vice President's lead and taking Medicare off budget; and
- Making targeted and significant investments in health care, including:
- A long-overdue, voluntary, affordable prescription drug benefit in Medicare;
- Health insurance coverage for millions of uninsured Americans; and
- New assistance for individuals with long-term care needs and their caregivers.
Promoting S-chip enrollment and outreach. At today's conference, President Clinton:
- Praised states with innovative S-CHIP enrollment and outreach practices. From the first quarter of FY 1999 to the first quarter of 2000, enrollment in S-CHIP increased by more than 80 percent in 43 states. During that time period, 19 states reported that their enrollment had more than doubled, and 9 of those states reported that their program enrollment had tripled. The President commended states who have eliminated burdensome eligibility requirements, shortened application forms, and streamlined the enrollment process.
- Released a new report by the Departments of Health and Human Services, Education, and Agriculture that details strategies for motivating schools to adopt outreach as part of their mission and highlights promising state practices for identifying and enrolling eligible children through school systems.
- Challenged states to shoulder the responsibilities associated with the implementation of welfare reform. While committing to protect S-CHIP and TANF funding from devastating cuts, the President reiterated his concerns about families inappropriately losing their Medicaid when they leave welfare and enter the workforce. He also called on states to use TANF dollars responsibly and not as a means to reduce their own investment in welfare reform.
- Announced the release of guidance on the Administration's new S-CHIP 1115 waiver policy, under which the Administration will approve waivers that demonstrate innovative approaches to covering uninsured children and parents. This flexibility will help meet the goal of using state-based approaches to reduce the number of uninsured.