Members of the U.S. Senate voted unanimously Wednesday to pass a bill that will increase federal funding for state pools that insure the health of residents with health problems.[@@]

The bill, H.R. 3204, the State High-Risk Pool Funding Extension Act of 2005, would provide $15 million in money for starting new risk pools for 2006.

The bill also would provide $75 million in funds to subsidize pools operations between now and 2010.

The House passed the bill in July, and the bill is now ready for review by President Bush.

The Council for Affordable Health Insurance, Alexandria, Va., has issued a statement welcoming Senate passage of the bill.

“State high-risk pools are a critical health care safety net for Americans who are uninsured or uninsurable,” Angela Hunter, CAHI federal affairs director, says in the statement.

There are 31 risk pools operating in the United States, and they covered the health of 181,000 people, CAHI says.