The Senate gave approval on Thursday to a bill that will provide health insurance coverage to 11 million low-income children. This is the first time that the federal government will put up money to cover children, as well as pregnant women, who are legal immigrants.
The State Children's Health Insurance Program provides coverage for families who do not qualify for Medicaid because they earn more than that the income threshold for the program but who are not able to afford private health insurance. Close to seven million children are covered under this program, which costs $25 billion.
The new program will insure an additional four million children and will require an additional $32.8 billion in funding. The additional funding will come from increasing the taxes consumers pay on cigarettes from $0.39 per pack to $1 per pack.