UPDATE: Senate panel OKs bipartisan children's health bill

WASHINGTON (AP) - An overdue, bipartisan bill financing health insurance for millions of low-income children has won easy approval from the Senate Finance Committee.

The panel's voice vote came four days after the government's authority to provide fresh money for the program expired.

No states are expected to immediately run out of funds. But several are preparing to take early steps like notifying beneficiaries that the program might be curtailed, and pressure is building on Congress to act.

Both parties support the program and the measure is virtually certain to be approved.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee planned to consider its version of the bill later Wednesday.

The measure would provide five more years of financing for the program, which provides health insurance for 8.9 million children.

ORIGINAL STORY:
House Republicans are proposing a five-year extension of financing for a popular program that provides health insurance for 8.9 million low-income children.

GOP lawmakers have unveiled the measure three days after federal funding for the program expired. Though no states are expected to immediately run out of money, some are preparing to take initial steps to wind down their programs amid uncertainty over what Congress will do.

The proposal would increase Medicare premiums on high-earning people and take other steps to pay for extending the children's health program.

The measure includes an additional $1 billion for Puerto Rico's Medicaid program.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee plans to vote on the bill Wednesday. The Senate Finance Committee is expected to approve a similar measure the same day.