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In an overwhelming 411-3 vote, the House of Representatives voted to extend the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) for another 18 months, until March 2009. It became law on Dec. 29.
The bill also holds back a 10% pay cut to Medicare doctors, and instead gives them a modest (0.5%) pay increase. The extension will cost $6 billion, and was paid for by cost reductions in other health programs.
One of the issues that held the bill up was how long the extension would last. Democrats wanted a one-year extension, so a new round of arguing would occur during fall 2008-voting time. But GOP leaders extended the bill past the election season.