Senate Democrats are pushing for swift approval of a bill to reauthorize the State Childrens Health Insurance Program. At deadline, lawmakers were debating the measure on the Senate floor.
The legislation, approved several weeks ago by the Senate Finance Committee, would reauthorize and expand the program by $35 billion over five years, using a 61-cent-per-pack tax increase to cigarettes and other tobacco products as a revenue source.
The Democrats plan involves offering the bill to the full Senate in the form of an amendment to a tax relief bill that has already been approved by the House, sources for the majority said.
The bill may be facing a challenge from Senate Republicans, who say it would increase government spending and extend coverage to children from higher-income families and allow states to continue enrolling adults. President Bush, whose goal is to fund the program at only $5 billion more, has threatened to veto the legislation.
Even more hurdles may await House legislation to reauthorize SCHIP, which is scheduled for consideration on the floor later this week and which contains numerous provisions to reform the Medicare program. Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, sent his version of the bill directly to the floor last Friday, bypassing a vote in the full committee after hours of partisan debate. -- by Jennifer Lubell
What do you think? Post a comment on this article and share your opinion with other readers. Submit your letter to Modern Healthcare Online at [email protected]. Please be sure to include your hometown and state, along with your organization and title.