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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Congress Fights Over Expanding Children's Health Insurance

Last week, the Senate Finance Committee announced a bipartisan plan that would renew and expand the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which provides health insurance coverage to low-income, uninsured children whose parents do not qualify for Medicaid, but who cannot afford private health insurance.   House Democrats introduced their version of the bill last night. 

As the New York Times reports, however, Republicans in both the House and Senate have vowed to fight these bills.  Forbes reports that the House bill would be funded by (1) increasing the federal excise tax on cigarettes by 45-cents and (2) lowering payments to insurance plans participating in the Medicare Advantage program.  The Senate bill would be funded by a 61-cents increase in the excise tax on cigarettes.  Senators Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Trent Lott (R-MI) have voiced opposition to the bill, and the White House has indicated President Bush will veto.  (The White House has offered a $5 billion increase in CHIP, compared with the $35 billion increase proposed by the Senate bill and the $50 billion increase contemplated by the House bill).    

Authorization for CHIP expires on September 30th.

- SBS 

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