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President Bush Not for Expansion of Child Health Insurance

Iraq or electoral debacles notwithstanding, President Bush seems determined to hang on to his less-and-less-government stance .

He has announced that that he will veto a bipartisan plan to expand the Childrens Health Insurance Program.

He seems to be at odds with the Democratic majority in Congress, with a substantial number of Republican lawmakers and with many governors of both parties, who want to expand the popular program to cover some of the nations 8 million uninsured children, but he doesnt seem to mind.

Key members of the Senate Finance Committee announced a bipartisan deal late last week that would raise the federal excise tax on cigarettes by 61 cents, to $1 a pack, to expand the program by $35 billion over the next five years.

That would create total program funding of $60 billion over the period enough, lawmakers said, to cover 3.3 million additional youths while keeping the focus on children of the working poor.

The program, which expires Sept. 30, has helped millions upon millions of low-income, uninsured American kids see doctors when theyre sick, Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat, said.

His colleagues have also sought an even bigger increase of $50 billion, for a total of $75 billion in funding over five years. It would be paid for in part by trimming payments to private Medicare plans for seniors.

Bush has attacked the proposals as big-government attempts to enlarge the federal role in health care, saying they would siphon choice away from individuals and reduce private insurance coverage for some children.

He has proposed about $5 billion in new funding for childrens health insurance over five years, for a total of $30 billion an amount the Congressional Budget Office says is too little even to keep covering the number of children enrolled now.

The program is going beyond the initial intent of helping poor children, Bush sa
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