Skip to main content

Obama lauds bipartisan kids' health insurance plan

  • Story Highlights
  • Senate expands children's health insurance program by $32 billion over five years
  • Bill now goes to House, which passed it earlier before Senate added provision
  • Nine Republicans crossed party lines to approve the bill in Senate
  • Obama hails bipartisan approval of bill, which he said he'll sign quickly
  • Next Article in Politics »
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Obama pointed Friday to a "bipartisan" legislative success, at the end of a week in which his economic stimulus bill triggered a partisan divide.

Proponents of the bill that the Senate passed say it will extend health insurance to 4 million more children.

Proponents of the bill that the Senate passed say it will extend health insurance to 4 million more children.

The president hailed the Senate's passage of a bill to expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) by more than $32 billion over five years.

"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," Obama said in a statement.

"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."

Former President George 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.

The vote in the Senate was 66-32. All those voting against the bill were Republicans, but nine Republicans voted in favor. Video Watch ads pushing GOP senators to take bipartisan approach to pass stimulus »

The House passed a similar bill earlier this month, but the Senate bill includes a change involving physician-owned hospitals. A House Democratic leadership aide says a decision has not yet been made on whether the House will pick up the Senate bill or whether it will go to a conference committee.

"Next week we expect to pass that in the House and send it on to the president for his signature," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday.

The president has made clear he wants to sign the bill quickly. After the House passed its version earlier this month, then-President-elect Obama issued a statement saying, "I hope that the Senate acts with the same sense of urgency so that it can be one of the first measures I sign into law."

SCHIP covers more than 6 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 it would extend the program to an estimated 4 million additional children, paying for it with a 61-cent-per-pack increase in the federal tax on cigarettes.

Opponents argued that, among other things, it will allow undocumented immigrants to access taxpayer-financed health care illegally and is insufficiently funded.

All About

  • E-mail
  • Save
  • Print