President Clinton will call on public schools today to play a bigger part in enrolling millions of children who are eligible for, but not participating in, two federal health insurance programs.
In the latest effort to reduce the number of Americans lacking health insurance, the president will instruct several agencies to improve "school-based outreach," meant to identify and enroll such children in Medicaid and a newer program, White House officials said yesterday.
"There are over 10 million uninsured children nationwide," said a draft copy of a memo outlining Clinton's planned address today to 8,000 pediatricians meeting in Washington. "Although aggressive implementation of CHIP [Children's Health Insurance Program] has enrolled over one million children--with states expecting enrollment to more than double over the next year--more must be done to ensure the success of this program."
The president will dedicate $9.5 million in research funds "to identify effective children's health insurance strategies," the memo said. It said some states, notably New Jersey and Indiana, already use public schools as sites to enroll children in CHIP and Medicaid, the federal health program for the poor and disabled.
Clinton will specify that some of CHIP's $24 billion in funding can be used for administrative purposes such as enrollment, White House aides said. The president will encourage the Republican-led Congress to appropriate more funds to discourage youth smoking, promote childhood immunizations and finance graduate medical education at children's hospitals, according to aides.
The draft memo said Clinton plans to criticize Senate GOP leaders for "rejecting the administration proposal to increase the price of cigarettes by 55 cents a pack," which supporters say would reduce teenage smoking. Senate leaders say such a tax increase would hit working-class people the hardest.