One year ago today, within weeks of taking office, President Obama signed into law a reauthorization of the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). This legislation, along with provisions in the Recovery Act strengthening Medicaid, brought much-needed health coverage to millions of families.
The expansion of the Children's Health Insurance Program and the strengthening of Medicaid helped ensure 40 million kids from all across America could see a doctor if they got sick. It meant that, in the face of a recession, their parents did not have to choose between the health of their kids and paying rent or the heating bill. These programs have been critically important for families.
Taking a closer look at the last year, we found that millions of children's lives were changed as a result of these federal programs. An additional 2.6 million children gained coverage through Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program during the 2009 fiscal year.
While we are proud of how far we've come, we think we can do better. There are millions of children who are eligible for Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program, but don't have coverage.
That’s why we're challenging states, local governments, community-based organizations, health centers, faith-based organizations, as well as other federal departments to help enroll the 5 million children who are eligible for Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program but do not currently have coverage. To do our part, we've already issued outreach grants, launched a new website, and brought together 500 people at a National Child Health Summit, and we will be doing much more to reach out to federal agencies and states on ways to cut out the red tape in enrollment and renewals. We will also be closely monitoring progress on all fronts.
We've compiled resources and information, both in English and in Spanish, in one website called www.InsureKidsNow.gov. This website offers state-specific information about the Children's Health Insurance Program and Medicaid for families and professionals.
Nothing is more important than the health and well-being of our children. We are determined to build on our existing efforts to cover kids and to make sure that no child goes without health care in America.
Kathleen Sebelius is Secretary of Health and Human Services