President Barack Obama signed into law an expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) that authorizes spending an additional $32.8 billion to include coverage for approximately 4 million children in addition to the 7 million currently insured under the program. The increase in coverage will be funded through increases in the federal excise tax on cigarettes (from 39 cents per pack to $1). The most significant change from previous versions of the law will allow states to end the five-year waiting period for low-income, uninsured children who are legal residents. SCHIP was to expire on March 31, 2009. The program, created in 1997, is intended for children from in families that earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, but too little to afford private health insurance. For more information on the Act, please click here.