January 14th, 2009
03:10 PM ET
14 years ago

House passes expansion of children's health program

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/14/art.capitol.gi.jpg caption="The House of Representatives passed legislation expanding the State Children's Health Insurance Program."] WASHINGTON (CNN) - Congressional Democrats flexed their new political muscle Wednesday as the House of Representatives passed legislation expanding the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) by more than $32 billion over five years.

The bill, which will be taken up by the Senate next week, passed by a margin of 289-139. A majority of Democrats supported the expansion; a majority of Republicans were opposed.

President-elect Barack Obama, who emphasized his support for an expansion of the SCHIP program during the 2008 campaign, is expected to sign the bill if it reaches his desk.

SCHIP currently covers over six million children whose parents earn too much to qualify for Medicaid - the federal health insurance program for the poor - but who can't afford private insurance. The bill's supporters say the legislation would extend the program to an estimated four million additional children, paying for it with a 61-cent-per-pack increase in the federal tax on cigarettes.

Passing an expansion of SCHIP early in Obama's presidency, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said, would be "a very dramatic and important statement that change has come to America."

"Children are our treasure," said Rep. John Dingell, D-Michigan. "The (SCHIP) bill is only the beginning... We must not stop until all Americans qualify for quality, affordable health care."

Opponents of the bill argued that, among other things, it discriminates against physician-owned specialty hospitals, will allow undocumented immigrants to illegally access taxpayer-financed healthcare, and is insufficiently funded.

"Increasing the cigarette tax... does not, will not, and cannot cover the costs of this program," Rep. Dave Camp, R-Michigan, said. "The impending tax increases... will have us all in a severe coughing fit."

Funding the bill through cigarette taxes is "irrational," added Rep. Wally Herger, R-California, because it "finances a growing program through a declining revenue source."

President Bush vetoed two similar bills in 2007, arguing at the time that the legislation would have encouraged families to leave the private insurance market for the federally-funded, state-run program.

Filed under: House
soundoff (84 Responses)
  1. dr.mimi de la cruz




    January 14, 2009 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  2. LP

    This is killing the folk who wish to reap the benefits of living in a functioning society without actually having to contribute anything back to that society and who love to yell "Small government!" in an attempt to distract from their base selfishness and resentment.

    In contrast, many people I know support this and other attempts to expand healthcare and benefits for others. These folks are in their late 20's-late 30's. Most make six figures, live in expensive cities (LA, Seattle, NYC), and don't mind making small sacrifices to help out. I'm hopeful that this is a generational trend that will strongly influence government and social attitudes going forward as the "As long as I've got mine..." outlook becomes irrelevant.

    January 14, 2009 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  3. lovable liberal

    Republican morality: I've got mine; who cares about you?

    January 14, 2009 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  4. Judy

    I'm a smoker and I am happy to pay the extra tax!

    January 14, 2009 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  5. G.R.I.T.S - Girl Raised in the South

    All these neo-con Republicans complaining about government sticking their fingers in every facet of our lives need to take a hard look at their own party's platform. You can't marry who you love if that means you are gay. You can't have an abortion (sometimes not even if the father is your rapist or your father). THAT, my friends, is government interfering with our lives.

    So to all the anti-choice neo-cons, we all must give birth, even if we can't care for our offspring, and no one will help those children who are actually born and alive visit a doctor. That makes so much sense.

    January 14, 2009 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  6. Peter (CA)

    These topics so clearly show how the right wing has poisoned the minds of its followers.
    We live in a society--we should all contribute but we should all benefit also. No, this isn't socialism-it's part of Jesus' commandment to all of us (and if that doesn't get the right wingers, nothing will).
    So, if you are able bodied, you work and you pay taxes. Everyone contributes, everyone benefits. Not a tough concept except for the greedy who never have enough.

    January 14, 2009 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  7. Darth Vadik, CA


    You're going the wrong way about it, these are Republicans you're talking about it, here is what you need to say and do to win their support:

    Take the bill and write it on an old peace of parchment.
    Put a flag lapele on it.
    Then put it on top of a bible wrapped up in a big US flag and a small Confederate flag.
    Put a sign next to it that says 2nd Amendment forever.
    Than take the whole displayand put it on top of a sign that says "No gays allowed"
    Then have a guy with a Mississippi accent keep repeating:
    -"If you don't support this bill you support the terrorists, and they will come and get you, get you and your children when you are sleeping. Booo"

    Did I miss anything?

    January 14, 2009 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  8. Erika, KS

    Say "no" to taxpayers shelling out money to pay for illegals' children. In education, in health care, in everything. It's got to stop. Taxpayers don't have an endless supply to our income. We only have so much money. I'm sick of supporting illegals AND their illegal children.

    January 14, 2009 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  9. Erica, KS

    What's the matter with Kansas? Too may racists? What do you think, Erica?

    January 14, 2009 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
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