President Clinton Announces Approximately 2.5 Million Children Have Enrolled in the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (9/29/00)
President Clinton Praises the Decline in Uninsured, Urges Congress To Expand Coverage, Unveils New Funds for Outreach
Today, President Clinton will announce the latest estimates indicating that as of June 2000, approximately 2.5 million children were enrolled in the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP). This new announcement comes on the heels of yesterday’s release of new Census Bureau data showing that from 1998 to 1999 the number of Americans with health insurance rose by 1.7 million - two thirds of them children. These new numbers confirm that the Clinton-Gore coverage expansion strategy is starting to pay major dividends. Continuing the Administration’s aggressive efforts to enroll eligible children in health insurance, the President will announce the release of $700,000 in grants to enhance state efforts to identify and enroll uninsured children, and keep them enrolled, to get the care they need. The President will also call on the Congress to move without delay to pass his bipartisan health care coverage initiative, which includes a new, affordable health insurance option for parents and an expansion of health insurance options for Americans facing unique barriers to coverage, such as those aged 55 to 65, workers in small businesses, and legal immigrants.
NEW ESTIMATES INDICATE THAT 2.5 MILLION CHILDREN ARE ENROLLED IN S-CHIP. Today, the President will announce new estimates from the Department of Health and Human Services indicating that as of June 30, 2000 approximately 2.5 million children have enrolled in the S-CHIP program. Enrollment in the S-CHIP program has increased by an impressive 50 percent over the last nine months. HHS will provide its full annual enrollment report in February.
NEW CENSUS BUREAU DATA SHOW MAJOR DECLINE IN THE NATION’S UNINSURED. Yesterday, the Census Bureau released new national data on health insurance coverage in 1999. This new data indicate a significant decrease in the number of people without health insurance nationwide - a reversal of a 12-year trend. Factors contributing to the decline in the uninsured include the establishment of the historic S-CHIP program; the unprecedented outreach and enrollment efforts by the Administration and key states; and the improving economy in which increasing numbers of employers are offering health insurance. Key findings include:
- Uninsured Americans decreased from 44.3 to 42.6 million in 1999 – the first decline in at least 12 years. About 1.7 million fewer Americans were uninsured in 1999. The rate of uninsured Americans decreased from 16.3 to 15.5 percent, a statistically significant change. This decline occurred among all major ethnic groups, including African-Americans, Hispanics, and Asian / Pacific Islanders.
- Two out of three of the newly insured are children. The rate of uninsured children dropped from 15.4 to 13.9 percent – and more dramatically among near-poor children, from 27.2 percent to 19.7 percent between 1998 and 1999 – both statistically significant changes.
- States that have aggressively expanded their S-CHIP and Medicaid programs have lowest uninsured. Sixteen states saw the uninsured proportion of their populations fall on a statistically significant basis, while eight states experienced increases in their rate of uninsured (using two-year rolling averages): Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin. Texas has the highest three-year average of uninsured in the nation at 24.1 percent.
- Three-year decline in Medicaid coverage ended. As efforts to increase awareness of continued eligibility for Medicaid in the wake of welfare reform have begun to take effect, the recent declines in enrollment appear to have ended.
- Employer-based coverage increased in all firms, even small firms. The percent of workers covered through their employers increased in general from 53.3 to 55.5 percent between 1998 and 1999. However, while small businesses with fewer than 25 employees increased employee coverage generally, they were still half as likely to have employer-based coverage as firms with 100 or more employees.
- Problems persist for middle-income people. While the number of uninsured declined for those with income below $50,000, the number and rate stayed the same or increased for those with higher incomes. Over the last five years, the gains in coverage among the lowest income individuals has been offset by increases in the uninsured among higher income people.
- Certain vulnerable populations such as legal immigrants and young adults continue to face barriers to health coverage. Approximately 42 percent of foreign-born residents, who are immigrants but not yet citizens, continue to be without insurance and the proportion rises to 60 percent among the poor. Similarly, 45.4 percent of poor young adults (above age 18 who are no longer eligible for Medicaid and S-CHIP) lack health coverage.
DESPITE HISTORIC GAINS, THE CHALLENGE OF THE UNINSURED REMAINS. Millions of Americans lack health insurance. Although there are many causes of this problem, it generally results from lack of affordability or access to coverage. Family health insurance premiums cost on average $6,350 annually - which represents a large share of income for a family trying to make ends meet. Purchasing affordable, accessible insurance is a particular challenge for many older people, workers in transition between jobs, and small businesses and their employees. Lacking health insurance has serious consequences. The uninsured are three times more likely as the privately insured to go withouth needed medical care, 50 to 70 percent more likely to need hospitalization for avoidable hospital conditions like pneumonia or uncontrolled diabetes, and four times more likely to rely on an emergency room or have no regular source of care.
STRONG OUTREACH AND ENROLLMENT EFFORTS CONTINUE. Today, President Clinton will announce that the Department of Health and Human Services will invest $700,000 in grants to states and rural communities to enhance S-CHIP outreach and enrollment efforts. These grants:
- Invest $400,000 in five states implementing innovative strategies to enroll kids and help them stay enrolled in S-CHIP and Medicaid. Today, the Department of Health and Human Services will provide $400,000 to five states developing new strategies to identify and enroll uninsured children, as well as to ensure that enrolled children stay in the program. With these funds, Florida will be piloting a new electronic application process targeted at minority children served by day care centers. Massachusetts will attempt to increase S-CHIP and Medicaid retention rates by simplifying their renewal process, allowing primary care providers to renew a child's coverage whenever the family comes in for care. Ohio and Pennsylvania will eliminate burdensome income verification requirements for families applying for coverage. Finally, Washington will increase its efforts to link children receiving school lunch subsidies with health care coverage.
- Invest $300,000 in 20 rural communities to reach children in rural areas. These funds will be used to provide door-to-door outreach for families in farming communities; outstation eligibility workers to guide families through the eligibility process; and provide application assistance to families in their native languages.
In addition, in coordination with the Clinton-Gore Administration, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Covering Kids Campaign has worked to heighten awareness of the national toll-free number for children’s health insurance outreach, 1-877-KIDS-NOW. As of August 31, 2000, the hotline has received 378,850 calls - 58,000 in August alone.
PRESIDENT CLINTON URGES THE CONGRESS TO ACT NOW TO PASS HIS HEALTH INSURANCE INITIATIVE. Today, President Clinton will urge the Congress to ensure that the number of insured Americans continues to increase by passing his comprehensive health insurance initiative without further delay. The Clinton-Gore initiative includes proposals to:
- Provide a new, affordable health insurance option for families. Over 80 percent of parents of uninsured children with incomes below 200 percent of poverty (about $33,000 for a family of four) are themselves uninsured. This proposal invests $76 billion over 10 years to provide health insurance to the uninsured families through FamilyCare. This plan: provides higher Federal matching payments for expanding coverage to parents; increases S-CHIP allotments and makes them permanent to ensure adequate funding for parents and their children; enrolls parents in the same program as their children; covers lower income parents first; and requires all states to cover at least all poor parents by 2006, providing the same coverage their children have today. Studies indicate that expanding coverage to parents will increase the number of children enrolled by up to 25 percent.
- Expand health insurance options for Americans facing unique barriers to coverage. Some vulnerable groups of Americans lack access to employer-sponsored insurance and insurance programs like Medicare or Medicaid. This proposal: restores state options to provide Medicaid and S-CHIP coverage to pregnant women, and children; expands state options to insure children aged 19 and 20 through Medicaid and S-CHIP; establishes a Medicare buy-in option for vulnerable persons age 55-65 and makes it more affordable through a tax credit equal to 25 percent of their Medicare premiums; provides a 25 percent tax credit to make COBRA continuation coverage more affordable for workers in between jobs; improves access to affordable insurance by providing tax incentives and technical assistance to establish voluntary purchasing coalitions for workers in small businesses; and extends the transitional Medicaid program for people leaving welfare for work.
THE CLINTON-GORE ADMINSTRATION’S LONGSTANDING COMMITMENT TO INCREASING HEALTH INSURANCE OPTIONS FOR THE UNINSURED. The Clinton-Gore Administration’s accomplishments include: S-CHIP, the single largest investment in children’s health care since 1965; providing new options for individuals with disabilities to keep their health insurance when returning to work; a state option providing health insurance for young people leaving foster care; approval of 17 state-wide Medicaid waivers providing an estimated 1.4 million low-income Americans with health insurance coverage; launching the national Insure Kids Now Campaign; issuing new guidance to ensure that Medicaid applications are properly processed; and issuing new guidance to assure families that the receipt of Medicaid, S-CHIP, or other benefits will not affect immigration status.
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