Republicans are calling the Democrats' action a step toward socialized medicine, and the Bush administration has vowed to veto both bills. The outcome will influence the course of the presidential election debate over how to cover about 45 million uninsured people in the U.S.; about 9 million of those are children.
The children's program, known in California as Healthy Families, must be reauthorized by Sept. 30 or it will expire.

"This is a package that helps kids, helps seniors and helps doctors, and is opposed by the tobacco and insurance industries," said John Rother, group executive officer of policy and strategy for AARP. "Which side do you think the public is going to line up with?"
Greenstein, of the antipoverty group, said Congress would probably have to roll back the 10% cut in Medicare doctors' fees later this year. Lawmakers may find it advantageous to try to work out both issues at the same time, he suggested.

"There's probably better than a 50-50 chance that the Senate will insist on taking out" the Medicare provisions, Greenstein said. "But if they can work out some Medicare changes, acceptable to the Senate, to finance a fix for the doctors, the overall bill may become stronger."

Votes may be harmful to parties' health - Los Angeles Times

Related Story:  Conflicts with California Schwarzenegger's plan

Bush also opposes a House bill that would add even more money to the program. Instead, he favors an alternative that would add $5 billion and reduce eligibility.

Bush's position set up a clash with Schwarzenegger, who has made expanding the program a top priority. It is a critical component of Schwarzenegger's plan to provide health insurance to the state's 6.5 million uninsured residents.

Schwarzenegger, who campaigned for Bush in 2004, repeatedly has disagreed with the Republican president on a variety of issues, including California's attempts to limit air pollution and greenhouse gases.


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