US President Barack Obama will soon put his signature to a health bill approved and forwarded by the US Congress. The soon-to-be-law aims at expanding the existing children's health program by increasing the number of beneficiaries under its purview.
The House of Representatives, by a vote margin of 290-135, backed a Senate measure expanding the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) to an additional four million children over the next four and a half years while continuing coverage for about seven million children already covered.
"Before the day is out, President Obama will sign it into law," said Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. "This is the day we have worked for, prayed for, hoped for."
The 32.8-billion-dollar increase will be funded mostly by a 62-cent-per-pack increase in federal taxes on cigarettes, which the bill's backers say will discourage more than one million children from taking up smoking.