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Bush plans to veto children's health bill

President Bush said on Thursday he would veto a bill that would expand a children’s health program, calling it a step toward government-run health care.
At stake is the Children’s Health Insurance Program, a state-federal program that expires Sept. 30. It subsidizes health coverage for low-income people, mostly children, in families that earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to afford private coverage.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers announced a proposal Friday that would add 4 million people to the 6.6 million already participating by adding $35 billion over five years to the program. The addition would be financed by raising the federal cigarette tax by 61 cents to $1 per pack.
The Associated Press reports Bush as saying the measure is too costly, unacceptably raises taxes, and extends government-funded insurance to children in families who could afford private coverage. Instead, he has asked for an increase in funding for the program by $5 billion over the current $25 billion funding level for five years.
Bush’s threat of a veto drew criticism from Democrats and angered some Republicans who said his request was not sufficient, according to Reuters. The Associated Press reports that the bill’s backers reject Bush’s claim it would direct public money to families that can afford health insurance, with their goal to cover more of the millions of uninsured children. Financial incentives for states to cover their lowest-income children first would be part of the bill, they said.
While the bill has strong bipartisan support, Reuters reports that it is uncertain whether there are sufficient votes in both chambers to override a presidential veto.


The Associated Press: