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Children's Health Insurance Renewal Passes

Jeremy Sprinkle
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Expanded program includes cigarette tax hike

The Congress voted this week to reauthorize federal funding for the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), which was set to expire in March. The expanded program will cover an additional 4 million children, but funding will come in the form of an increase to one dollar of the federal excise tax on cigarettes.

On Tuesday, State Federation President James Andrews and Secretary-Treasurer MaryBe McMillan traveled to Washington, DC to meet with members of our Congressional delegation and urge them to find an alternative to increasing the cigarette tax. Senator Kay Hagan, who supported SCHIP renewal, tried but was unsuccessful in changing the bill.

Many families in North Carolina depend on the State Children's Health Insurance Program to provide a minimum level of health care for their kids.

However, we are disappointed the Congress relied on excise taxes, which are regressive - unfairly and disproportionately impacting low to middle income families - and ultimately a declining source of revenue.

Furthermore, cigarette tax increases threaten to undermine an already declining industry in our state, one that employs thousands of well paid union tobacco workers.