Providers hail legislation that would preserve Medicare, Medicaid

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Nursing homes and advocates for the elderly are praising legislation that would sustain Medicare and Medicaid, even as it boosts funding for a children's insurance program.

The Senate Finance Committee approved legislation that would raise the federal cigarette tax to $1 from 39 cents per pack as a way to increase five-year funding for the State Children's Health Insurance Program. House Democrats plan to unveil similar draft legislation.

The American Health Care Association praised lawmakers for their decision to tax tobacco rather than tap into Medicare and Medicaid to fund the SCHIP program. AARP and the American Medical Association also lauded the move.