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Nelson: Everyone Will get the Cornhusker Kickback

Will Medicaid Funding be the Straw that Broke Health Care's Back?

Senator Ben Nelson (D-DeadMeat) continues to try to distance himself from his Obamacare bribe and his vote for the bill:

“At the end of the day, whatever Nebraska gets will be available to all states,” Nelson said during a conference call with reporters.

In exchange for his crucial support of the reform bill, Nelson was promised federal funding to cover Nebraska’s entire cost of a Medicaid expansion included in the bill. Other states will have to begin picking up a portion of the added expanse beginning in 2017.

Nebraska wasn’t alone in getting Medicaid breaks. Vermont, Louisiana and Massachusetts also got help with their programs.

Nelson said Thursday that if he can’t secure a similar deal for every state, he wants states to be freed from paying the cost of Medicaid expansion. That would mean eliminating the provision or finding another way to pay for it.

“States that are concerned about Nebraska getting something that they’re not getting should rest at ease,” Nelson said. “That’s not going to happen…”

Nelson said Thursday that he expects all states will get extra Medicaid funding, but he wouldn’t speculate on whether he’d vote against the reform measure if Nebraska was still singled out.

Before we consider the specifics of Nelson’s demand suggestion, let’s recount for a second some of the people that have come out against the deal: Blanche Lincoln, Sherrod Brown, Michael Bennet, Joe Sestak, John Spratt, a number of state Attorneys General, and the Governator. And of course, Nelson’s own Governor – and possible 2012 opponent – opposes the extra money for Nebraska.

Faced with the growing anger over a deal that saves Nebraska taxpayers but imposes tens of billions of additional dollars on the backs of taxpayers of many other states, Nelson now says he’s committed to making sure that all states get the same deal Nebraska got. He won’t say however, that he’ll vote to kill the bill if he doesn’t get his way. That’s significant, because providing the same help to all the states is likely to add tens of billions to the cost of the bill.

This headache seems to be growing rather than waning. Will Democrats kill Nelson’s deal, find significant new revenue to buy in every state, or simply tell Nelson (and many others) to quit grousing and line up behind the bill?

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