News in Brief: A Washington Roundup

January 17, 2001 2 min read

CHIP Rules Revised To Help More Children Obtain Health Insurance

The Clinton administration has issued new federal rules designed to ensure that more children from low-income working families are enrolled in health-insurance plans.

“We know that when uninsured children get health coverage, they go to the doctor’s office more often and to the emergency room less often,” President Clinton said in announcing the changes Jan. 6.

Under the new rules for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, a federal initiative that provides money to states, states will be able to use enrollment data from the federal school lunch program to get in touch with families that may be eligible for health-insurance aid.

In addition, parents will be able to enroll their children immediately in CHIP or Medicaid at child-care centers, school nurses’ offices, and other convenient locations while their applications are formally processed.

Currently, 3.3 million children are enrolled in CHIP, Mr. Clinton said, up from about 2 million in 1999.

The program, which is run by the Department of Health and Human Services, provides grants to states to help provide health insurance to children in working families with incomes too high to qualify for Medicaid but too low to afford private coverage.

—Erik W. Robelen

Bush Names New Choice for Labor Post

President-elect Bush named former Peace Corps Director Elaine Chao as his new choice for secretary of labor last week, after his original pick, Linda Chavez, withdrew her name from consideration.

Ms. Chavez announced her withdrawal Jan. 10 amid controversy over money she gave an illegal immigrant who lived at her home in the early 1990s and helped with housework and other chores.

Critics said the arrangement with the Guatemalan woman may have violated federal law. Ms. Chavez said that she gave the woman the money out of a sense of charity, but she conceded that she should have been more forthcoming about the situation.

Ms. Chavez, the president of the Center for Equal Opportunity, is widely known among educators for her opposition to affirmative action and bilingual education.

Ms. Chao, 47, has been a distinguished fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative research organization, since 1996. In addition to heading the Peace Corps, she served as a deputy secretary of transportation under President George Bush and as the president and chief executive officer of United Way. She is the wife of Sen. Mitch McConnell, R- Ky.

—Mary Ann Zehr

A version of this article appeared in the January 17, 2001 edition of Education Week as News in Brief: A Washington Roundup