The Senate passed a bill to expand and reauthorize an expiring childrens health coverage program, and in the process sent a message to the White House that an expected veto could be overridden in at least one chamber of Congress.
The 68-31 vote to approve the State Childrens Health Insurance Program bill, which comes one day after the House passed its more expansive and costlier version, shows that the bipartisan coalition garnered in the Senate is enough to give them a veto-proof majority.
I would hope that the broad bipartisan support for this agreement will cause the president to rethink his veto threat, so that more uninsured kids can realize the promise of the (program,) Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said in a written statement. Baucus added that he is eager to work with the House to find a middle ground between both bills.
The Senate bill effectively renews the 10-year-old SCHIP program for another five years, giving it a $35 billion boost in funding over that time. SCHIP, which currently covers a little more than 6.6 million children, is set to expire at the end of September. Baucus said that the Senate bill would allow for another 3.2 million uninsured children to have coverage.
The Senate would use a 61-cent increase to the federal tobacco tax to help defray the costs of the programs expansion. But a bill in the House, which passed on Wednesday largely along party lines, 225 to 204, could prove thornier. That bill far exceeds the relatively streamlined Senate bill in both scope and cost, adding numerous provisions that would affect Medicare funding to providers and cut payments to Medicare Advantage plans. -- by Matthew DoBias
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