Thursday, January 7, 2010

Obamacare, creating a nation of Californias, pt. 2

It seems that Ben Nelson is now opposed to the special bribe deal he received in exchange for voting for the health care bill.

The Democrat wouldn't say who he has spoken to regarding the so-called "Cornhusker Kickback" but that he would see to it that Nebraska doesn't get a special deal.

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

Nelson provided the crucial 60th vote that brought the reform bill to the full Senate after winning concessions to limit the availability of abortions in insurance sold in newly created exchanges. Among other things, he 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.

Nelson has said he didn't ask for special treatment for his state.

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 could mean eliminating the provision, finding another way to pay for it or allowing states to opt out.

Allowing states an opt out seems an odd way of expanding coverage, and sense that is ostensibly one of the primary goals of Obamacare it seems counter productive to allow it. More sensible - if the goal is to cover everyone - is to pay for as much of the expansion as possible at the federal - as opposed to the state - level.

Of course, that still doesn't address how the new federal spending will be paid for, but at least this change would mitigate some of the damage Obamacare could do to cash-strapped state governments.

Let's see if house and senate leaders call Nelson's bluff take him up on his offer.

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