Breaking: Nelson will vote for cloture

posted at 9:47 am on December 19, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

Every man has his price, apparently, and Harry Reid found Ben Nelson’s price for a cloture vote on ObamaCare.  Nelson announced this morning that the language in the manager’s amendment on aborti0n will be enough to secure his support for Reid’s compromise bill, but Think Progress reports on what really sold Nelson — or bought Nelson, depending on your perspective.  First, the Washington Post:

Sen. Ben Nelson (Neb.), the final Democratic holdout on health care, was prepared to announce to his caucus Saturday morning that he would support the Senate reform bill, clearing the way for final passage by Christmas.

“We’re there,” said Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), as he headed into a special meeting to announce the deal.

Democratic leaders spent days trying to hammer out a deal with Nelson, and worked late Friday night with Nelson on abortion coverage language that had proved the major stumbling block. But Nelson also secured other favors for his home state.

A few favors?  Try a boatload of federal cash:

Under the current merged legislation (the version unveiled on November 18th), the federal government fully finances care for the expanded population for two years and increases its matching funds (known as FMAP) thereafter. Page 98 of the managers amendment specifically identifies Nebraska for higher federal matching funds, fully funding its expansion for an additional year:

‘‘(3) Notwithstanding subsection (b) and paragraphs (1) and (2) of this subsection, the Federal medical assistance percentage otherwise determined under subsection (b) with respect to all or any portion of a fiscal year that begins on or after January 1, 2017, for the State of Nebraska, with respect to amounts expended for newly eligible individuals described in subclause (VIII) of section 1902(a)(10)(A)(i), shall be determined as provided for under subsection (y)(1) (A) (notwithstanding the period provided for in such paragraph)

Subsection (y)(1)(A) refers to page 399 of the original merged Senate legislation which fully funds state Mediciad expansions for the first two years. The manager’s amendment also provides 2.2% increase in FMAP to help states finance their existing Medicaid programs.

That will be worth at least hundreds of millions of dollars in federal cash for Nebraska … for the first three years.  After that, Nebraskans get as screwed as the rest of the country.

And what about that abortion coverage? Nelson caved, as one can read in the published version, via Patriot Room:

Managers Amendment

Scroll down to Section 1303, which uses the same reliance on the “prohibited under HHS rules” dodge as the earlier Senate version, rather than using the language from the Stupak Amendment in the House that explicitly prohibited public money from funding abortions or abortion coverage. If Congress fails to renew the Hyde Amendment for just one year, this language will become moot. This version will lose none of the progressives, because they know they can just kill the Hyde Amendment renewal now to eliminate the problem.

Nelson caved on abortion and sold out for an extra year of federal Medicaid subsidies.


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