More CHIP Bucks Renew Review

Texas officials have launched a new agency review for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The decision follows an aggressive increase in advertising funds forthe state program, now estimated at $10 million over two years.

Designed to provide children from low-income families with health insurance, CHIP was implemented in 2000. The initial two-year, $2 million advertising contract was awarded in 1999 to Sherry Matthews Advertising & Public Relations of Austin, Texas, following a review.

Although the agency has a one-year renewal option, CHIP officials “felt like they had go out to bid under state rules [because of] the previous cap in the [request for proposal] on expenditures,” said Chris Sherman, senior account manager at Sherry Matthews.

As an example of the spending increase, Sherman noted that CHIP began a statewide advertising blitz this year with a$3 million media buy for January to August. Originally, only $1 million was allocated for a year’s worth of media spending.

Administered by the Texas Department of Health and Human Services, the CHIP program receives its funding from the state legislature.

The increase in the size of the program means agencies that previously found the CHIP program insignificant may choose to participate in the latest review. Sherry Matthews intends to defend.

State CHIP director Jason Cooke in Austin is overseeing the review process. CHIP officials could not be reached for comment at press time.

A proposers’ conference will be held May 11. A letter of intent to propose is due June 1, and completed proposals are due back June 15. The two-year contract, with two possible one-year extensions, will be awarded Aug 1.

The request for proposal states that proposers will be “expected to evaluate and refine existing approaches, as well as develop new concepts and marketing ideas.” Creative concepts must specifically respond to previous TV, radio and print materials created for the TexCare Partnership, the name of CHIP’s marketing program.

Texas has one of the highest percentages of uninsured children in the U.S. The first year’s outreach program generated more than 500,000 applications and resulted in the enrollment of over 300,000 children in CHIP.