Despite a decade of marketing efforts by governments and private foundations, nearly 30 percent of children who are eligible for the health insurance program and are not covered by private plans have yet to enroll, according to a new government study.
Late last week, the Bush administration published new standards intended to prevent states from expanding eligibility for the program to cover children from middle-class families. But a more fundamental debate over the program has been raging in Washington for months: how to find and enroll the 1.7 million low-income children who are already eligible but have not signed up.
That hard-to-reach population is the focus of a showdown over reauthorizing the 10-year-old program, the largest single extension of government-subsidized health insurance since the Great Society health initiatives of 1965.
The challenge of enrolling those already eligible demonstrates how difficult it will be for states to meet the new standards. The policy says that states can expand eligibility only if they have first enrolled 95 percent of those who now qualify. Few states have come close to doing that; the national enrollment rate in 2004-2005 was 72 percent, according to the study.
More here.Update: For some wonkier SCHIP discussion and analysis, take a look here.