WASHINGTON (2/16/09)--An estimated four million more children are eligible for federally funded health care as a result of legislation that President Barack Obama signed on Feb. 4 (cnn.com Feb. 4). The new law affects the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). It expands the number of children covered by more than 50% at an expected additional five-year cost of about $35 billion, which will come from an increase in the federal cigarette tax. SCHIP offers benefits to children whose parents have income above the limits for Medicaid, the federal health insurance program for the poor, but who can't afford to buy private insurance on their own. For little or no out-of-pocket expense, SCHIP pays for children’s common health care costs such as doctor visits, prescription medicines and hospitalizations. Individual states, whose eligibility rules might differ slightly, administer SCHIP. Typically, the program covers uninsured children younger than age 19 whose families earn less than $34,100 a year (for a family of four). To learn details about SCHIP in your state, visit insurekidsnow.gov/states.asp or call 877-KIDS-NOW (877-543-7669).