One of Three

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), January 1, 2010 | Go to article overview

One of Three


Byline: Amanda Carpenter, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

One of three

Republican attorneys general have been singling out Sen. Ben Nelson, Nebraska Democrat, for the Cornhusker Compromise he secured in the Senate health care bill, but his state wasn't alone in getting extra help from the government.

Nebraska, Massachusetts and Vermont each received exemptions from paying for the expanded Medicare benefits authorized in the law. Yet, Mr. Nelson has been the target of white-hot anger from the Republican Party while Democrats representing the two other states boosted in the bill are rarely mentioned in these attacks.

Thirteen attorneys general wrote a letter to Democratic leadership threatening to take legal action on Wednesday if the Nebraska exemption was not removed. But neither Massachusetts nor Vermont was mentioned in the letter. Inquiries to the office of South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster, who authored the letter, were not returned as his staff was out for the New Year's holiday.

The difference, however, that the attorneys general suggested in their letter is that Mr. Nelson did not agree to vote for the bill until he received, what he calls, the carve-out.

I think they just look at Nebraska as the poster child for vote buying, said Brian Darling, director of Senate relations for the Heritage Foundation.

Mr. Nelson, for his part, says the Medicaid benefit wasn't a deal breaker for his vote. He wrote in an op-ed for the Nebraska-based North Platte Bulletin that this would not have prevented me from voting for the bill.

Now, the Nebraska senator says other states are trying to follow his example.

This is a matter of basic fairness in which Nebraska is leading the way, he wrote. Already, two other states, Vermont and Massachusetts, are included and senators from other states, inspired by the Nebraska example against unfunded federal mandates, have begun talking about including their states.

Governor's threat

Idaho Gov. C.L. Butch Otter, a Republican, is also threatening legal action against the health care bill.

Mr. Otter is objecting to the provision in the legislation that will fine Americans for not purchasing health insurance, the cost of the bill and the undemocratic and inequitable compromises made during negotiations of the bill.

In addition to the Cornhusker Compromise, Mr. Otter is highlighting another provision critics are calling the Louisiana purchase that puts extra money toward that state's Medicaid programs.

I find it dubious that taxpayers in Idaho and other states will have to cover 100 percent of costs associated with newly eligible Medicaid enrollees in Nebraska or provide an additional $300 million in Medicaid aid to Louisiana, Mr. Otter said.

He concluded, I question the wisdom as well as the constitutionality and legality of these bills and will explore all my options, including legal action, to protect Idaho and the U.S. Constitution should Congress adopt and the President sign compromise health care legislation. …

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