The US Senate on Thursday voted 68-31 to approve legislation (S 1893) that would reauthorize SCHIP and expand funding for the program by $35 billion over five years. SCHIP expires on Sept. 30.
The Senate Finance Committee in July finalized an agreement on SCHIP reauthorization that would increase five-year funding for the program from $25 billion to $60 billion by raising the federal cigarette tax from 39 cents to $1 per pack.
Under the plan, the 6.6 million children currently enrolled in SCHIP would continue to receive benefits, and an additional 3.3 million children could be enrolled in the program.
The House on Wednesday voted 225-204 to approve its reauthorization legislation (HR 3162), which would increase SCHIP funding by $50 billion over five years and make changes to Medicare.
The bill now goes to conference committee, and negotiators will have “a formidable challenge in trying to work out differences” between the two bills.
The House version of the bill includes a larger expansion of the program, along with revisions to Medicare that include cuts to private Medicare Advantage plans and a reversal of a scheduled cut to physicians’ Medicare reimbursements. The House and Senate versions also differ in the size of the tobacco tax increase, with the Senate supporting a 61-cent increase and the House supporting a 45-cent increase.