Children's Health Initiative
Significant gaps remain in children's health coverage. In 1995, 10 million children in America lacked health insurance. The President's children's health initiative will extend coverage to up to 5 million uninsured children by 2000 by strengthening Medicaid for poor children, building innovative State programs for working families, and continuing health coverage for children of workers who are between jobs. Today, the Association of American Medical Colleges issued a letter of support for the Clinton Administration's children's health initiative.
12-Month Continuous Eligibility. Currently, many children receive Medicaid protection for only part of the year. The President's fiscal year 1998 budget gives States the option to provide one year of continuous Medicaid coverage to children. The budget invests $3.7 billion over five years, covering an estimated million children who would otherwise be uninsured.
Outreach. The President also proposes to work with the Nation's Governors, communities, advocacy groups, providers, and businesses to develop new ways to reach out to the 3 million children eligible but not enrolled in Medicaid.
The President's budget provides $3.8 billion between 1998 to 2002 ($750 million a year) in grants to States. States will use these grants to provide insurance for children, leveraging State and private investments in children's coverage through a matching system (as in Medicaid). States have flexibility in designing eligibility rules, benefits (subject to minimums set by the Secretary), and delivery systems.
The Federal grants, in combination with State and private money, will cover an estimated one million children whose families earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but too little to afford private coverage. The grant program will also increase Medicaid enrollment by about 400,000 kids since some families interested in the new program will learn that their children are in fact eligible for Medicaid.
The President's budget will give States grants to temporarily cover workers between jobs, including their children, at a cost of $9.8 billion over the budget window. The program, which is structured as a four-year demonstration, will offer temporary assistance (up to 6 months) to families who would otherwise lose their coverage. This assistance may be used to purchase coverage from the worker's former employer (through COBRA) or other private plans, at States' discretion.
This initiative will help an estimated 3.3 million working Americans and their families, including 700,000 children, in any given year.
The President's budget also makes it easier for small businesses to establish voluntary purchasing cooperatives, increasing access to insurance for workers and their children.