CHIP: Clinton Urges Congress to Include Parents
Announcing at a Sept. 29 press conference that under the "Clinton-Gore coverage expansion strategy," about 2.5 million children have enrolled in the State Children's Health Insurance Program, President Clinton called upon Congress to expand the program to uninsured low-income parents of enrolled children. Clinton also urged support for his "comprehensive health insurance initiative" that would include a provision to allow individuals ages 55-65 to buy into Medicare with the help of a tax credit. Clinton's $76 billion, 10-year CHIP expansion would require states to cover "at least all poor parents" by 2006. States would receive higher federal matching dollars and increased, permanent CHIP allotments to expand their programs. Clinton also announced that HHS will award $700,000 in grants to help states identify and enroll uninsured children. Clinton's proposal also includes provisions to expand insurance options for individuals with "unique barriers to coverage." Under his plan, "vulnerable" individuals ages 55-65 who lack access to employer-based insurance would be allowed to buy into Medicare early and receive a tax credit equal to 25% of their Medicare premiums. The plan also would extend the transitional Medicaid program for individuals leaving welfare for work (White House release, 9/29). During the press conference, Clinton said: "We have now the children's health insurance coverage. We've taken care of the kids that age out of foster care. We passed a bill that protects you if you get sick or if you change jobs from losing your health insurance. But we need, for people to make maximum use of this [CHIP] law, every child in this country ... who is eligible for CHIP, ought to be in it. The parents who need it, ought to be able to buy into the program. We can afford this now" (White House release, 9/29).
Candidates Discuss CHIP
In other CHIP news, the Arizona Daily Star compares how presidential candidates Vice President Al Gore and Texas Gov. George W. Bush (R) would change the program if elected. Bush said he supports "returning the S-CHIP program to its original intent as a flexible block-grant program." He added, "In a Bush administration, the federal government will not act as a regulatory roadblock and instead work with states so that they have the freedom to innovate and create programs that reflect the needs of their uninsured population, especially children." Gore said that he will expand the program to cover all children by 2005 and would create "new options" for schools and day care centers to enroll children on site and "link" CHIPs to school lunch programs. Gore added that he would allow parents to enroll their children through mail-in applications (Arizona Daily Star, 10/1).