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 TIME on politics Congressional Quarterly CNN/AllPolitics CNN/AllPolitics - Storypage, with TIME and Congressional Quarterly

Clinton kicks off campaign to insure children under Medicaid

February 24, 1999
Web posted at: 9:55 a.m. EST (1455 GMT)

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, February 24) -- The Clinton Administration is enlisting new allies in a campaign to get more than five million poor children and teenagers health insurance by enrolling them in Medicaid.

To get out the word on the program, household products and a toll-free phone number will be used to encourage parents to seek federal health benefits for their kids.

"Today we're here to announce an unprecedented commitment from media to business, to health care industry, to grass roots organizations, all over our nation, to inform families of these new health insurance options," Clinton said at a White House event Tuesday.

The toll-free number -- 1-877-KIDS-NOW or 1-877-543-7669 -- has been developed by the National Governors' Association (NGA) and Bell Atlantic to provide state by state information.

"Ultimately of course, parents must take responsibility for their children's health," Clinton said Tuesday."Our message must be: What you don't know about your children's health insurance options can hurt them. It's up to you to find out if your child is eligible for this health insurance."

Congress created the children's health insurance program almost two years ago to extend coverage to millions of children who are eligible for Medicaid but not enrolled and to enlist teens in a new health care program.

But the number of uninsured children began to rise when welfare reform legislation took effect. Many parents are unaware their children are sometimes still eligible for Medicaid coverage after the parents lose cash assistance.

To increase awareness, the phone number will be printed on K-Mart shopping bags, diaper boxes, child safety seats and toothbrushes. Numerous radio and television networks have promised to air public service announcement as well.

And health centers will put up thousands of posters and a new Web site ( carries the latest information on how to sign up.

The trend of uninsured children worries health care professionals. Children without health insurance are more likely to be sick as babies, not be immunized as preschoolers and go without medical treatment when injured.

Federal officials estimate that 10.7 million children have no health care coverage. Half are eligible for free or low cost coverage under these programs.

With aggressive outreach, state officials hope to enroll more than 2.5 million children in the next 18 months.

Since the failure of the Clinton national health care plan in 1994, the president has been forced to take an incremental approach. This is one program that federal officials say can produce results.

CNN's Chris Black contributed to this report.


Toll-free phone numbers:


Insure Kids Now Web site

President Announces Health Care Initiatives (6-22-98)

New York fills gap between insurance, Medicaid (5-26-97)

Concern for uninsured children has not led to agreement (CQ, 4-15-97)

Health insurance changes become law (8-21-96)


Insure Kids Now

White House

National Governors' Association

Bell Atlantic


Wednesday, February 24, 1999

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