SEN. BEN NELSON, D-NEB., who provided the critical 60th vote that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid needed, received numerous benefits for Nebraska, along with tighter curbs on abortion. Among the Nebraska-specific provisions:
_The federal government will pick up the full cost of a proposed expansion of Medicaid, at an estimated cost of $100 million over 10 years.
_Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska will be exempted from an annual fee on insurers; the exemption could also apply to nonprofit insurers in other states, possibly including Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.
_Supplemental "Medigap" policies such as those sold by Mutual of Omaha are exempted from the annual fee on insurers, something that would help other companies selling such policies.
_A physician-owned hospital being built in Bellevue, Neb., could get referrals from doctors who own it, avoiding a new ban in the Senate bill that will apply to hospitals built in the future. Without mentioning Nebraska or other states by name, the Senate bill pushes back some legal deadlines by several months, in effect making a few hospitals near completion eligible to continue receiving referrals from the doctors who own them.
Mr Nelson wanted tougher restrictions on abortion funding in the bill, but after days of wrangling, agreed to support the bill in return for the federal government permanently funding Nebraska’s bill for Medicaid, the insurance plan for the poor, worth about $45m in its first 10 years.
Mary Landrieu of Louisiana also won about $300m in support for Medicaid for her state, and Vermont and Massachusetts will also receive additional funding.
Bernie Sanders, the independent from Vermont and the most liberal of senators, obtained $10bn for community health centres after failing to get a government-backed public health insurance scheme in the bill.
Dana Milbanks at the Washington Post
First there was the "Louisiana Purchase," $100 million in extra Medicaid money for the Bayou State, requested by Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.).
Then came the "Cornhusker Kickback," another $100 million in extra Medicaid money, this time for Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.).
This was followed by word that Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) had written into the legislation $100 million meant for a medical center in his state. This one was quickly dubbed the "U Con."
Earlier, when GOP staff member mistakenly thought the medical center was destined for Indiana rather than Connecticut, they named it the "Bayh Off" for Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.).
For Democratic leaders, this created an appearance problem. Fortunately, they had removed from the bill the tax on cosmetic procedures (the "Botax") and replaced it with a tax on tanning (which would primarily impact House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio).
Gator Aid: Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) inserted a grandfather clause that would allow Floridians to preserve their pricey Medicare Advantage program.
Handout Montana: Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) secured Medicare coverage for anybody exposed to asbestos -- as long as they worked in a mine in Libby, Mont.
and on and on...
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Wall Street Journal
For Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and President Obama to not recognize that Americans are watching and Americans are furious, is political suicide.
I do not understand why one of these three do not have the common sense to stand up and say "stop, let's do this right", is just staggering.