U.S. President Barack Obama has signed into law a children's health insurance bill that will extend government benefits to four million more needy children over the next five years.
Mr. Obama said the new law is a sign of his commitment to extend health care coverage to every American.
Mr. Obama signed the bill Wednesday, shortly after the House of Representatives approved it in a vote of 290 to 135 earlier in the day. The Senate approved the bill last week.
President Bush twice vetoed a similar bill. Critics say the program will pay for health care for children whose families make enough money to buy private insurance. Supporters say families struggling with the poor economy and rising healthcare costs need the government's help.
The program expansion is expected to cost some $33 billion.
The law substantially raises the federal tax on tobacco products to pay for the expansion of the program. The tax on cigarettes will more than double, to $1 a pack.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, Bloomberg and Reuters.