Child health insurance expansion shelved
WASHINGTON -- Democrats appear to have ceded a yearlong fight to expand U.S. children's health insurance, as the Senate passed a measure keeping existing coverage until 2009.
Two presidential vetoes and staunch Republican opposition blocked plans for a $35 billion expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program over the past year. Critics said the expansion would made middle-class children, whose parents could afford healthcare insurance on their own, eligible. Backers said the additional coverage was needed to protect more low-income children.
"It's certainly another example of the Democrats caving to the Republican position at the eleventh hour," a spokesman for House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, told The Hill, a daily Capitol Hill newspaper.
The Senate approved extending the program through March 2009 Tuesday and House approval is expected, The Hill said. Democrats, however, said the fight isn't over, The Hill said.
"It does not preclude us from bringing up a strong, bipartisan bill," a spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told The Hill. "The goal here is to cover 10 million children. That's why discussions will continue. ... If there is an opportunity to have a vote on this legislation, absolutely we will have one."
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