January 14, 2000

State Children's Health Insurance Program Now Reaching Two Million

WASHINGTON - HHS Secretary Donna E. Shalala announced that nearly two million children who would otherwise be without health insurance coverage were enrolled in the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) in fiscal year 1999 -- double the number reported for the first full year of the program.

"Helping all children get access to quality, affordable health care is one of the Clinton-Gore Administration's top priorities," said Secretary Shalala. "Without this program, these children would not receive health care services on a regular basis. While we are encouraged by these enrollment numbers, we will continue to work with states to enroll even more uninsured children."

The SCHIP statute, signed into law by President Clinton in 1997, appropriates $24 billion over five years to help states expand health insurance to children whose families earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, yet not enough to afford private insurance.

The SCHIP program is the most significant improvement in access to health care for children since the creation of Medicaid in 1965. SCHIP is a state/federal partnership that gives states three options for covering uninsured children: designing a new child-ren's health insurance program; expanding current Medicaid programs; or a combination of both strategies.

"We are very pleased to report these enrollment numbers today," said Nancy-Ann DeParle, administrator of HCFA. "We will continue our partnership with the states to reach working families whose children need consistent, reliable health care."

As part of that partnership with states to find and enroll eligible children for both SCHIP and Medicaid, President Clinton and the National Governors' Association last year launched the Insure Kids Now campaign which includes a national toll-free number, 1-877-KIDS-NOW, and Web site at http://www.insurekidsnow.gov. The Insure Kids Now Hotline is a toll-free number that connects callers automatically to their own state agency that administers the SCHIP program. The Web site has specific information on eligibility requirements for families and on-going outreach efforts.

"Doubling the number of children enrolled in this program in such a short time is quite an achievement," said Claude Earl Fox, MD, administrator of HRSA. "These numbers show us that SCHIP is working to give the children of low-income families the kind of access to health care that many of us take for granted. We will continue our outreach efforts and expect to reach even more children who face unacceptable barriers to proper health care."

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