The House of Representatives on Jan. 14 passed, by a 289 to 139 vote, HR 2, the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) Reauthorization bill. The legislation is intended to expand the number of children covered by health insurance under SCHIP or Medicaid from 7 million to 11 million.
The bill reauthorizes the SCHIP program through FY 2013. The Senate is expected to vote on similar legislation on Jan. 15. The expansion of SCHIP coverage is financed by increasing the tobacco tax by 61 cents and by achieving savings by imposing restrictions on self-referral to physician-owned hospitals. The bill gives states the option of covering legal immigrant children who have been here less than five years under SCHIP and Medicaid. The bill also phases out the coverage of childless adults and parents in SCHIP.