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Senate Passes Health Insurance Bill for Children

Tuesday, February 03, 2009 by: Jo Hartley
Tags: health insurance, health news, Natural News

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(NewsTarget) The Senate has approved legislation to provide health insurance to 11 million low-income children. For the first time ever, this bill will spend federal money to insure children and pregnant women who are legal immigrants. The House approved this legislation on January 14 and President Obama will most likely sign a final version, possibly even next week.

The State Children's Health Insurance Program is primarily for families that earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough money to be able to afford private insurance. This program currently covers almost 7 million children and costs $25 billion.

The decision to renew this program and spend $32.8 billion more to expand coverage to 4 million more children came Thursday. This additional spending will be paid for by increasing the cigarette tax from 39 cents to $1 per pack.

"Low-income, uninsured kids all across America have been waiting for Congress to fulfill the promise of the Children's Health Insurance Program for them," said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (Montana).

This political victory may come at a price, however. The spirited debate on this program brings concern about whether Republicans and Democrats can work together to pass more health reform later this year. Lawmakers are reported as expressing "disgust" with the way Democratic leaders conducted themselves during the debate. This vote came only one day after the House passed an $819 billion economic stimulus package, and did so without even one Republican vote.

The children's health program was created in 1997 under a Republican-led Senate. Since that time the program has benefited from broad bipartisan support. Many governors, business executives and consumer advocates have lobbied for the expansion of this program. The belief is that more and more families need this kind of assistance in this current economy.

"During this economic turmoil, it is critical that we maintain and strengthen this important lifeline to our nation's children and that we help financially strapped states respond to the growing need for affordable health-care coverage," said Cindy Mann, executive director of Georgetown University's Center for Children and Families.

This current bill is similar to versions that had the support of many Republicans. However, Republican lawmakers are now objecting to a new provision that allows states to enroll certain legal immigrants. Until this point, many immigrant families have had to wait five years to be eligible for coverage.

There were more than two days of debate and there was unusually strong language during the debate. Republicans have expressed a sense of disbelief that Democrats would drop the compromise from 2007.

Both parties had hoped that initial bipartisan action on children's coverage would show that the elected lawmakers would cooperate on these important issues. There is hope that the American people's strong desire for health care reform will force both the Democrats and Republican lawmakers to work together.

Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content...

About the author

Jo Hartley
Wife, Mother of 8, and Grandmother of 2
Jo is a 41 year old home educator who has always gravitated toward a natural approach to life. She enjoys learning as much as possible about just about anything!
http://loftymatters.com - Current Events
http://winemaiden.com - Simply Abundant Living

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