Connecting Kids to Coverage: A Message from Secretary Kathleen Sebelius – Say Ahhh! A Children’s Health Policy Blog


Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 


No child or young person should have to skip a doctor’s
appointment or go without the medicine they need because their family can’t afford
it.  That shouldn’t happen in
America, and that’s why the Obama Administration made children’s health
coverage a priority from the start.

When President Obama took office, there were 8 million
uninsured kids in America, roughly two-thirds of whom were eligible for
Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), but were not
enrolled.  That was
unacceptable.  So one of the first
bills the President signed was the Children’s Health Insurance Program
Reauthorization Act (CHIPRA).  That
law not only expanded coverage to four million additional children, it also
included a range of bonuses and grants to help states and community partners
strengthen their enrollment efforts.

To raise these efforts to the next level, on the first
anniversary of CHIPRA, I issued the Connecting Kids to Coverage Challenge:  I called on Governors, Mayors,
pediatricians, faith groups, school nurses, sports coaches, community
organizations, and others to work with us to cover all five million children
who were eligible for either CHIP or Medicaid but weren’t signed up.

All over America, that call was answered, and today, with
the help from States and communities, we have reduced the number of eligible
but unenrolled children nationally and in every region of the country.  For example, Oregon has enrolled more
than 100,000 eligible children in Medicaid and CHIP over the last two years,
cutting its percentage of uninsured children in half. 

These are achievements we can be proud of, but we also
know we can do more to give families the security of knowing their children are
covered.  That confidence is
critically important to parents. In a national survey we conducted to find out
what parents of eligible children think about Medicaid and CHIP, 70 percent
said that when it comes to enrolling their child, getting “peace of mind” is a
very motivating factor, as well as the knowledge that the programs are
affordable.  Perhaps even more
important, parents told us that they value what the programs provide their
children: two thirds of the parents whose children were covered said they were
very satisfied with the coverage and the quality of health care their children
get with Medicaid and CHIP. 

While these high marks are affirming and bolster our
efforts to promote Medicaid and CHIP, the survey also revealed that far too
many parents still don’t know their children may be eligible, may think the
enrollment process is too difficult or don’t know where they can apply.

This summer our Department released another $40 million
in CHIPRA outreach grants to build on the grants awarded in 2009.  We directed this round of funding at
strategies we know are working and have the potential to do the most good.  They’ll support efforts to use
technology in new ways to sign up eligible kids, help generate outreach
activities in schools and focus attention on teens and minorities, groups for
which coverage gaps still exist. 
And thanks to the Affordable Care Act, there will be more outreach funds
available soon to support this vital work.

For more information, check out our website, , for valuable resources.

Flyers that promote Medicaid and CHIP in English and

– Ideas for enlisting schools, community health centers
and local businesses in outreach;

– The Game Plan, a guide for engaging school and
community youth sports programs in helping to enroll eligible children in
health coverage, and

– Our growing Outreach Video Library that spotlights
effective techniques and promising practices being used across the country to
enroll eligible children and teens

Ultimately, it’s people on the front lines who help make
sure eligible children and their families have the security that comes with
health insurance. Working together, we can move even closer to the day no child
in America goes without the care they need because they don’t have health

Editor’s Note: Organizations can answer Secretary Sebelius’ Call to
Action by accepting the Connecting Kids to Coverage Challenge.  It’s easy:  Just visit and follow
the instructions. Those who have already accepted the challenge are encouraged to share what they are doing on the same website.

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