WASHINGTON (KWWL) - A bill that would extend health coverage to 4 million more lower-income children is expected to be swiftly passed by the House Wednesday.
The bill, which sailed through the Senate last week, calls for an additional $32.8 billion to be spent on the State Children's Health Insurance Program.
President Barack Obama is expected to sign the measure, which is a first step in his efforts to shrink the ranks of the uninsured.
Over the next four years, up to 13 million children could be covered under the program.
To cover the increase in spending, lawmakers approved boosting the federal excise tax on a pack of cigarettes by 62 cents, to $1.01 a pack.
Opponents of the bill complain that the tobacco tax increase hits the poor the hardest. Many also take exception to expanding the program and Medicaid to children of newly arrived legal immigrants.
Online Executive Producer Nate Leding