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Bush: Keep Government Child Health Care Focused on Poor


President Bush is urging Congress to pass an extension of the current health insurance program for poor children, and not try to push for its expansion.

Mr. Bush, speaking at the White House Thursday, argued that expanding the program is part of a Democratic plan to encourage more people to drop private programs, and create a massive government health bureaucracy.

The Democratic-controlled Congress has passed legislation that would expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program to include families that are not poor enough to qualify for federal health insurance, but often not wealthy enough to buy private insurance.

The expanded program would be paid for in large part by an increase on the tax of cigarettes.

Many Republicans and President Bush argue the House and Senate bills raise the level of "working poor" eligible for the program too high, four times the poverty level, or more than $80,000. Some Republicans want to place eligibility at twice the poverty level.

Health insurance is becoming a major issue in the next year's presidential election, with several candidates already outlining their plans for programs that would include more Americans.

There are currently 47 million Americans who do not have health insurance. The United States is one of the few wealthy countries not to have a universal health care program.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.

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