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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release September 29, 2000



Praises the Decline in Uninsured, Urges Congress To Expand Coverage,

Unveils New Funds for Outreach

September 29, 2000

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:

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:

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:

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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