[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book I)]
[February 18, 1998]
[Pages 239-240]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

[[Page 239]]

Memorandum on Children's Health Insurance Outreach
February 18, 1998

Memorandum for the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of 
Agriculture, the Secretary of the Interior, the Secretary of Labor, the 
Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Secretary of Housing and 
Urban Development, the Secretary of Education, the Commissioner of 
Social Security

Subject: Children's Health Insurance Outreach

    Over 10 million of our Nation's children are currently uninsured 
and, as a consequence, often cannot afford much-needed health care 
services such as doctor visits, prescription drugs, or hospital care. 
Last year, with bipartisan support, we took a major step toward solving 
this problem. The Balanced Budget Act of 1997 that I signed into law 
enacted the largest single expansion of children's health insurance in 
30 years. The new Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provides 
$24 billion over 5 years to cover millions of uninsured children in 
working families. It builds on the Medicaid program, which currently 
covers nearly 20 million poor children across the country.
    We now face the serious task of enrolling uninsured children in both 
Medicaid and State-administered children's health programs. We know that 
well over 3 million uninsured children are eligible but not enrolled in 
Medicaid. This is largely due to a lack of knowledge about Medicaid 
eligibility and the difficulty of the enrollment process. These same 
problems could limit the potential of CHIP to successfully enroll 
millions of uninsured children.
    To ensure that both Medicaid and CHIP fulfill their potential, I am 
calling for a nationwide children's health insurance outreach initiative 
involving both the private and public sectors. As illustrated by my 
announcement today, foundations, corporations, health care providers, 
consumer advocates, and others in the private sector are already 
responding to our challenge to make every effort to enroll uninsured 
children in Medicaid or CHIP. In the public sector, my FY 1999 budget 
proposal includes policies to give States the flexibility and funding 
they need to conduct innovative outreach activities. The Health Care 
Financing Administration (HCFA) and the Health Resources and Services 
Administration (HRSA) should continue their focused efforts to promote 
outreach through administrative actions.
    There is clearly more that the Federal Government can do to help the 
States and the private sector achieve our mutual goal of targeting and 
providing coverage to uninsured children. Many children who lack health 
insurance are the same children who benefit from programs your agency 
now administers. Eligibility for Medicaid and CHIP is often similar to 
that for WIC, Food Stamps, Head Start, tax programs, job training, 
welfare to work, Social Security, public housing, and homelessness 
initiatives. Thus, a coordinated Federal interagency effort is critical 
to providing greater health care coverage for children.
    Therefore, to increase enrollment of uninsured children in Medicaid 
and CHIP, I hereby direct you to take the following actions consistent 
with the mission of your agency. First, I direct you to identify all of 
the employees and grantees of your agency's programs who work with low-
income, uninsured children who may be eligible for Medicaid or CHIP.
    Second, I direct you to develop and implement an educational 
strategy aimed at ensuring that your agency's employees and grantees are 
fully informed about the availability of Medicaid and CHIP to our 
Nation's children.
    Third, I direct you to develop an agency-specific plan as part of 
our Administration-wide, intensive children's health insurance outreach 
effort. Your agency's plan should include distributing information and 
educating families about their options; coordinating toll-free numbers 
and other sources of information on public programs; simplifying, 
coordinating, and, where possible, unifying the application process for 
related public programs; and working with State and local agencies on 
broadening the locations where families can apply for Medicaid and/or 
    Fourth, I direct you to identify any statutory or regulatory 
impediments in your programs to conducting children's health insurance 
coverage outreach.
    Finally, I direct the Department of Health and Human Services to 
serve as the coordinating agency to assist in the development and 
integration of agency plans and to report back to me

[[Page 240]]

on each agency's plan in 90 days with recommendations and a suggested 
implementation timetable. In so doing, I direct the Department to ensure 
that Federal interagency activities are complementary, aggressive, and 
consistent with the overall initiative to cover uninsured children.

                                                      William J. Clinton