By a vote of 66 to 32, the U.S. Senate has approved legislation to extend the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).
The program is aimed at children in families who cannot afford private insurance, but earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid. The program, which currently covers close to 7 million children, is expected to grow to 11 million children.
To pay for the expansion of the program, the lawmakers raised the federal tax on cigarettes from 39 cents a pack to $1.
“Today the Senate took a critical step forward by voting to help ensure that no child falls through the cracks of our health care system,” says Karen Ignagni, president and CEO of America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP). “This legislation gives children access to essential health care services, and eases the burden on working families who are struggling during the slowing economy. Policymakers should build on this momentum and pursue health care reform that gives every American access to high-quality, affordable health care coverage.”
The House approved their version legislation on Jan. 14. After the separate bills are reconciled, President Obama is expected to sign the final version.
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