The final vote was 289-139. Here’s more on what the bill contains:
The bill passed by the House bill aims to enroll about 11 million children into the program, compared to 6.7 million currently. The expanded program is paid for in part by raising the cigarette tax to $1 a pack from 39 cents. Taxes on cigars and other tobacco products also would rise.
The program is designed to provide health care to children in families unable to afford health insurance but who earn too much to qualify for the Medicaid health care program for the poor.
Congress passed an SCHIP expansion before, but it was opposed by most Republicans and vetoed by President Bush. In the end, too many Republicans supported the veto for the Democratic majority in Congress to override it.
I’m glad this bill is finally being passed; there are a lot of struggling middle-class families who shouldn’t have to worry about how to pay for their kid’s doctor visits.
There was a time when issues like these–providing health care to sick children whose families can’t afford it–would have had bipartisan support; both parties would have recognized the benefits of helping sick children get medical treatment.
Sadly, those days are long gone–now nearly every issue under the sun gets politicized and partisanized, and Democrats actually have to fight to get health care for sick kids.
I’m looking forward to Democratic rule, if for no other reason then common sense legislation (like the SCHIP expansion) won’t have to overcome arbitrary ideological hurdles.