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Obama signs SCHIP reauthorization, expansion

The U.S. House approved legislation Feb. 4 reauthorizing and expanding access to state-run health care programs for children, the final step before sending the measure to the White House.
House members voted 290-135 in favor of the measure. The bill had been returned to the House after the Senate amended the original version last week.
The State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), created in 1997 to subsidize state funding of health programs for children of low-income families, was set to expire on March 31.
The $74 billion reauthorization bill raises minimum income requirements for SCHIP to three times the federal poverty level, a change that would qualify an additional 4.1 million children nationwide. Before reauthorization, the threshold was twice the federal poverty level.
The bill also eliminates a five-year waiting period for services provided to newly arrived legal immigrant children and pregnant women, despite protests from key Republican members in the House and Senate.
The measure, which reauthorizes SCHIP for four-and-a-half-years, is expected to cost an additional $32.8 billion, which will be funded by a 62-cents-per-pack increase in the federal cigarette tax.
President Barack Obama, who signed the bill on Feb. 4, called the health care program “one of the highest responsibilities we have.” 

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