What Was Nelson's Price?

Posted: Dec 19, 2009 10:55 AM
Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson gave up his fight against the Obama health care plan this morning when Majority Leader Harry Reid introduced his own 383-page "managers amendment."  Call me a skeptic, but I believe there are probably things included in that amendment which helped "persuade" Nelson to vote 'aye.'

We all know Nelson's opposition to the bill was largely about the bill's federal funding of abortions--a practice the bill new language "limits," but specifically does not ban.  In fact, page 39 of the newly released language specifically outlines "abortions for which public funding is allowed." 

But in addition, Nelson has recently complained that the bill's proposed expansion of Medicaid entitlements to certain low-income individuals would put stress on the state of Nebraska.  Nelson suggested states should be able to "opt-in" to the program if they wished to participate. 

Surprise!  Page 98 of today's new managers amendment specifically identifies the state of Nebraska for a higher level of federal matching funds--funds that would fully fund its Medicaid expansion an entire year past those of other states:  
(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)
So in order to get Nelson's support, the country is bankrolling additional benefits for the state of Nebraska.  Nice.

Like a true politician, Nelson says he supports the bill now, but says he "reserves the right" to change his mind.