NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Gore Pushes Ineligible Kids Into Health Insurance Program

November 1, 2000

Al Gore criticizes George W. Bush for failing to enroll children in the federally-funded State Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP), or Kidcare, passed by Congress in 1996. The program was supposed to give states money to insure children whose parents weren't eligible for Medicaid. But it turns out that nationally, up to 80 percent of the kids who enrolled in Kidcare are probably going to have to forcibly removed and required to reregister for Medicaid. This is especially the case for illegal immigrants, who qualify for Medicaid but not Kidcare.

  • Kidcare was supposed to enroll 5 million uninsured children.
  • But since the program started in 1996, only 2 million children have enrolled -- half of them supposedly transferred from pre-existing state programs and many of the rest were otherwise eligible for and enrolled in Medicaid.
  • To boost enrollment, the Clinton-Gore administration encouraged states to combine Medicaid and Kidcare enrollment and worry about eligibility later.

Then Gore invented an ambitious program to promote Kidcare that spent tens of millions on advertising. Just a week ago, the White House announced it was giving community-health centers still more money for outreach.

Many governors rushed to implement Kidcare, and others simply pushed every family into one big managed-care program run by Medicaid. Only a handful of governors, including Bush, tried to design a program that actually gave families choices. Bush wanted a stand-alone program with separate criteria and application processes for Medicaid and Kidcare, something liberal-advocacy groups and the White House opposed.

The fact is, despite Kidcare, children have no more health-care coverage now than they did in 1996. Forty percent of the money is unspent. And 50 percent of the kids will be found to be Medicaid eligible and illegally enrolled in Kidcare.

Source: Robert Goldberg (NCPA Senior Fellow), "Al Gore, Unfit Leader," Guest Comment, National Review Online, October 30, 2000.


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