LITTLE ROCK, AR - Governor Beebe urged Congress today to override President Bush's veto of a bipartisan bill that would have dramatically expanded children's health insurance.
Beebe says the services provided by ARKids First, which is funded by the federal Children's Health Insurance program, won't be immediately affected by Bush's decision earlier today to veto an expansion of the initiative. Arkansas currently has 80,000 children who are provided health care through the program.
The State Children's Health Insurance Program is a joint state-federal effort that subsidizes health coverage for 6.6 million people, mostly children, from families that earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford their own private coverage.
The Democrats who control Congress, with significant support from Republicans, passed the legislation to add $35 billion over five years to allow an additional 4 million children into the program. It would be funded by raising the federal cigarette tax by 61 cents to $1 per pack.