Health Care Progress
The Senate passed a bill yesterday that will expand health insurance coverage for children. The 66-32 vote included 9 Republicans who favored the bill. The House passed the bill two weeks ago by a vote of 289-139 with the support of 40 Republicans. Two previous efforts to enact the law met with George Bush vetoes, but President Obama will sign the bill into law.
One of the most significant sections of the child health bill would allow states to use federal money to cover children and pregnant women who are legal immigrants. Under existing law, legal immigrants are generally barred from Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program for five years after they enter the United States.
The Congressional Budget Office said the bill would enable states to cover more than four million uninsured children by 2013, while continuing coverage for seven million youngsters. The bill would increase tobacco taxes to offset the increase in spending, estimated at more than $32 billion over four and a half years.
John McCain, who became an anti-socialism crusader late in his campaign as he searched for a theme that would resonate with independent voters, expressed his concern that the bill was the first step of a larger effort to eliminate private health insurance in favor of government-funded health care. If only.
Orrin Hatch, on the other hand, has been a proponent of S-CHIP but voted against the bill because he was "upset about being left out of negotiations." Boo hoo. When Senate Democrats take on the more complex question of overall health care reform, they'll have to make sure that poor Orrin has a comfortable seat at the table so he won't feel left out. It may be a postpartisan schtick, as BTD likes to say, but letting petulant senators from the minority party feel involved is sometimes all it takes to sway their vote.
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