“Providing health care to more than ten million children through the Children’s Health Insurance Program will serve as a down payment on my commitment to ensure that every American has access to quality, affordable health care,” said President Barack Obama. He also stated that “As the worsening economy causes families to lose their jobs and health insurance, it is vital that we redouble our efforts to ensure that every child in America has access to affordable health care. That is why I am pleased that the Senate has joined the House in passing bipartisan legislation to provide health insurance to children whose families have been hurt most by this downturn.”
The Senate passing of legislation that will provide government-sponsored health care to approximately 4 million uninsured children is the start of Obama’s health care overhaul. The bill was approved yesterday 66 to 32 and will insure children in families that earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford private health insurance, increasing the amount of children who will be covered from 7 million to 4 million. The joint state-federal program will cost an additional $32.8 billion on top of the $25 billion over the next 4 ½ years. The expansion would be paid for by raising the cigarette tax from 39 cents a pack to $1.
“Low-income, uninsured kids all across America have been waiting for Congress to fulfill the promise of the Children’s Health Insurance Program for them,” said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus. The House passed a nearly identical bill a few weeks ago with a vote of 289 to 139.
Similar legislation had been vetoed twice by former President George W. Bush. On the other hand, President Obama is eager to sign the legislation to begin the coverage that will hopefully lead to coverage for all Americans.