Senate Panel Finally OKs Bipartisan Children’s Health Bill

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Children's Health Bill
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WASHINGTON (AP) — A bipartisan bill financing health insurance for millions of low-income children won easy approval Wednesday from the Senate Finance Committee as pressure grew on Congress to act, four days after federal funding for the program expired.

No states are expected to immediately run out of funds for the program, which provides health insurance for 8.9 million children. But several states are preparing to take early steps like notifying beneficiaries that the program might be curtailed.

The program has broad support and the measure is virtually certain to be approved.

Because of that, lawmakers from both parties are lining up to attach pet provisions to it, such as increasing federal aid to hospitals or helping insurers curb growing premiums. Senators withheld amendments Wednesday to move the process ahead a step.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has not said when the full Senate will consider the measure. The chamber takes a recess next week and the House takes one the following week, ensuring no final congressional action until at least late October.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee planned to consider its version of the bill later Wednesday. That measure is more contentious, with some Democrats unhappy with Medicaid savings Republicans have proposed to help pay for the extension.

The measure would provide five more years of financing for the program.

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