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Sebelius, Vilsack Combine Forces to Cover More Uninsured Children

By John Reichard, CQ HealthBeat Editor

Feb. 8, 2010 --Two Cabinet secretaries said last week they were launching a five-year campaign to build on the increase of 2.6 million over the past year in enrollment of uninsured children in Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program.

Marking the first anniversary of the expansion of CHIP signed into law by President Obama, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said another 5 million uninsured children are eligible for Medicaid or CHIP but are not enrolled.

The secretaries described the "Connecting Kids to Coverage" campaign as a five-year effort that "will challenge federal officials, governors, majors, community organizations, tribal leaders and faith-based organizations" to enroll uninsured children.

The two departments will work with state officials to use data from state "Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs" — food stamp programs — to identify uninsured kids who might qualify for Medicaid or CHIP coverage.

Vilsack said, "The partnership we are announcing today will bring new cooperation between HHS and USDA so that families who qualify for food assistance can better access affordable health insurance for their children." The officials also announced that $10 million in "outreach" funds to enroll more uninsured children will be disbursed in April, targeting American Indian and Alaska Native populations.

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