Congress to vote this week on new SCHIP bill

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House and Senate members are expected to vote this week on compromise legislation for the State Children's Health Insurance Program. The legislation does not include Medicare cuts to skilled nursing facilities, as providers feared.

The bill, which leaders of the two chambers agreed to late last week, would reauthorize the children's healthcare program for another five years with an additional $35 billion. The bill neither touches Medicare nor the 10% physician fee cut slated for next year.

It is unclear how President Bush will react to such a bill. Last week he asked Congress send him a "clean" extension of SCHIP, to eliminate the risk of a veto. He supports only a slight funding increase of $5 billion for the current program. SCHIP expires at the end of this month.