CHIP: One Year Out, One Million Enrolled
Nearly one million uninsured children were ushered into the Children's Health Insurance Program during its inaugural year, a significant dent in HHS' goal of enrolling 2.5 million children by 2000, HHS Secretary Donna Shalala announced yesterday. As enrollment crept upward, with 47 states, four U.S. territories and the District of Columbia jumping on board the five-year, $24 billion program, officials cautioned against complacency, noting that outreach efforts are still a priority. In 1998 alone, 43 state CHIP plans cleared start-up hurdles and were launched, Shalala said, noting that about 540,000 children enrolled in state CHIP programs and another 442,000 in Medicaid- CHIP expansions. Only seven CHIPs, however, were operational for the entire year -- Indiana, Illinois, Idaho, Massachusetts, Ohio, Oklahoma and Puerto Rico -- and 10 out of the 43 did not start enrolling children until after October 1. Nonetheless, "one million children in one year is an amazing achievement," said HFCA Administrator Nancy-Ann Min DeParle (HHS release, 4/20). First Lady Hilary Clinton noted in a speech yesterday at Hofstra University in New York (see story 1) that while there is "a lot of creativity" in implementing the program, "there's a long way to go." Last year, states spent just $500 million of the $4.3 billion allocation; in 1999, the Congressional Budget Office predicts that states will spend $1 billion. "This is the beginning of this very historic, very progressive program," said HHS spokesperson Chris Peacock. "Some states are just beginning to implement their programs" (Meckler, AP/Contra Costa Times, 4/21). The recently launched "Insure Kids Now" outreach campaign is a major component of the enrollment effort. A toll-free hotline, 1-877-KIDS NOW, provides access to state-specific information about Medicaid and CHIP. NBC, ABC, Univision, the National Association of Broadcasters, Black Entertainment Television and Viacom/Paramount have all committed to airing public service announcements promoting the toll-free number (White House release, 4/20).
Rounding Them Up
The Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured released its second annual study analyzing state CHIP variations for 1998. Prepared by the National Conference of State Legislatures and the National Governors' Association, the report profiles state CHIPs one year after the federal law that created the initiative took effect, providing a basic description of each state's program and baseline information such as type of program, eligibility requirements, number of enrollees, copayments and evaluations. Copies of the report are available by calling the NCSL at 303- 830-2200 (Kaiser release, 3/99).