The House voted 289-139 to approve legislation that would expand the State Childrens Health Insurance Program to 4.1 million additional children over the next 4½ years. Expansions to the program would be paid for through a 61-cent federal tax on tobacco products, in addition to a provision that would ban physician self-referral to hospitals in which they have an ownership interest. Nearly 7 million children are currently covered under the program.
Groups representing physician hospital interests have already protested the self-referral ban in the legislation.
Democrats claim the bill is fully paid for, yet, House Republicans argued the legislation was fiscally irresponsible, and that it would raise taxes and crowd out private insurance. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the bill would increase direct spending by $32.3 billion through 2013. The net impact of the bill over this time period may result in a small reduction in the budget deficit, according to the CBO.
The Senate Finance Committee plans to consider its own version of an SCHIP reauthorization bill Thursday, which has a price tag of $31.5 billion to extend coverage to 3.9 million additional children over the next 4½ years. A vote in the full Senate on the finance panels SCHIP bill isnt expected until next week, said an aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).