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    House Passes SCHIP Bill

    The Senate could take action within a week.

    WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The House passed a bill Wednesday to expand the Children’s Health Insurance Program, funded by a 61-cent increase in the federal excise tax on cigarettes -- a measure that has garnered support from President-elect Barack Obama, and two vetoes by President George W. Bush, reported The New York Times.

    The Senate Finance Committee is expected to approve a similar bill Thursday, with action by the full Senate to follow soon after, according to the Times. Obama will probably be able to sign the bill within days of taking office on Jan. 20, the report stated.

    The bill would extend coverage to four million uninsured children and provide $32.3 billion over four and a half years to continue coverage for seven million children who now rely on the program.

    "This is a day of triumph for America’s children," Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California said.

    In a statement, Obama acknowledged his support. "In this moment of crisis, ensuring that every child in America has access to affordable health care is not just good economic policy, but a moral obligation we hold as parents and citizens. This coverage is critical, it is fully paid for, and I hope that the Senate acts with the same sense of urgency so that it can be one of the first measures I sign into law when I am President."

    House Republicans, however, raised several objections to the bill, one of which being the increasing cost of the child health program will not be matched by declining tobacco revenues. As a result, the government will face a widening gap that will probably be filled with additional tax increases in the future, the report stated.

    CSNews’s Mehgan Belanger speaks out about kids vs. smokes on today’s Spare Change blog. Click here to read more, and post your thoughts.

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