President Obama and Congressional Democrat leaders promised that they would use the reconciliation ‘fix’ to correct the inequities of the original House and Senate bills. Items like the Cornhusker Kickback and Louisiana Purchase would be eliminated, and all states would be treated fairly. But it turns out they didn’t mean it. According to the Associated Press, there are still special deals intended to buy the support of a number of wavering Representatives and Senators:
—Retains $300 million in extra Medicaid aid for Louisiana, which had helped win support for the Senate health bill from Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La. The state is still struggling to recover from Hurricane Katrina.
—Keeps $100 million included in the Senate bill that is expected to go for a public hospital in Connecticut sought by Dodd, who is retiring.
—Preserves language won by Baucus permitting many of the 2,900 residents of Libby, Mont., to qualify for Medicare benefits. Some of them have asbestos-related diseases from a now-shuttered mine.
—Provides an additional $8.5 billion over the next decade for 11 states and the District of Columbia to help them pay for the more generous Medicaid assistance they have been providing low-income residents. These states are Arizona, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.
—Maintains a Senate-approved provision giving extra money for hospitals and doctors in North and South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming.
But despite keeping special deals for some Members of Congress (and adding others for people like Earl Pomeroy and Kent Conrad), Florida’s Medicare patients apparently lost the special deal they won in the first go-round. And the Florida media has noticed:
Meanwhile, Florida U.S. Democratic Senator Bill Nelson is staying mum after reports surfaced that a provision that would spare cuts to 800,000 Medicare Advantage recipients in Florida was being stripped from the bill – one of the Congressional add-ons that seemed to turn the stomachs of many Americans back in December as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid did what he could to finagle 60 votes out of his chamber.
Labeled “Gator-Aid” by critics such as Karl Rove, Nelson said he wanted to grandfather in those who get extra benefits from Medicare Advantage. It joined “The Cornhusker Kickback” and “The Louisiana Purchase” as punching bags for Republicans and other critics who said that the proverbial deal making (frequently invoked as “sausage making”) to get the required number of Senators to back the bill late last year was particularly odious, and many Americans agreed (the Cornhusker kickback has been booted from the current bill which would have given Nebraska added federal Medicaid assistance), but the Associated Press reports that many of those add-ons that benefit individual states are still in the legislation…
Why are Pelosi and Reid keeping special deals for some, and throwing others under the bus? OK, that’s a rhetorical question. We all know why. The reason is politics. Pelosi and Reid are buying the votes they need, and ignoring others. They either don’t need Bill Nelson, Allen Boyd, Suzanne Kosmas, Alan Grayson, Ron Klein, and other Florida Democrats, or they’re confident those representatives will vote to slash Medicare benefits for their own constituents.
Which is it? Do Pelosi and Reid think that Kosmas, Boyd, Grayson, Klein, and Nelson are irrelevant, or ready to betray their constituents?