Friday, July 20, 2007

Smokers to Pay for Uninsured Children

Despite a threat from President Bush to veto the bill, the Senate Finance Committee has approved a 5-year, $35 billion expansion to the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).

As many as 9 million U.S. children lack health coverage, a statistic many see as the most urgent sign of the need for reform in the U.S. healthcare system.

The expansion would be financed by a 61-cent increase in federal cigarette taxes, as well as taxes on other tobacco products.

That proposed solution is receiving strong support:

"A higher cigarette tax is a win-win solution," said William Corr, executive director of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "It is a health win that will reduce tobacco use and save lives and a financial win that will raise much-needed revenue."

...and equally strong criticicsm:

It would also place two government goals -- reducing smoking and paying for children's healthcare -- at odds, [says Michael Cannon, director of health policy studies at the Cato Institute]. "It puts the government in a bind. On the one hand it wants to achieve good by discouraging people from smoking but on the other hand it will be relying on (tobacco taxes) for revenues."

SOURCE #1: "Analysis: Panel OK's Children's Insurance" 07/20/07
SOURCE #2: "Analysis: Burning Smokers to Help Kids" 07/20/07

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