Today, the Senate Finance committee voted 17-4 to expand children’s health insurance. The bill calls for a total increase in spending of $60 million over the next five years, which would be funded through an increase in tobacco taxes.
The State Children’s Health Insurance Program or SCHIP program provides health coverage to low-income, uninsured children whose parents do not qualify for Medicaid but can’t afford private coverage on their own. The program’s funding expires at the end of September, and has been in existence for about 10 years.
Bush has proposed a $5 billion increase, a total of $30 billion over the next five years, and he has threatened to veto the Senate bill
President Bush has repeatedly denounced the bill as a step toward “government-run health care for every American,” calling it a “massive expansion of the federal role” in health care, financed by “a huge tax increase.”
And some Senators aren’t exactly happy with the President:
Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the senior Republican on the committee and a co-author of the bill, said, “The White House is very unrealistic if they think they can continue to do what we are doing now with just a $5 billion increase.”
Another co-author of the bill, Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, Democrat of West Virginia, said that Mr. Bush and his health secretary, Michael O. Leavitt, had been “pretty belligerent” in criticizing the bill.
The House hasn’t yet taken up the legislation.