What a joke this is. What would one expect the federal government to say about a bill they were about to pass into law? No it’s not Constitutional, but we’re going to pass it anyway? Of course not. They would be expected now days to rationalize it.
White House to State AGs: No ‘Legitimate Constitutional Concerns’ in Senate Health Care Bill
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
(CNSNews.com) – The White House on Tuesday dismissed the concerns of 13 state attorneys general about the constitutionality of a clause in the Senate health care bill that singles out Nebraska for special treatment when it comes to covering the cost of expanding Medicaid coverage.
While stating that he had not read a letter from the attorneys general about the issue, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs nonetheless told CNSNews.com, “I do not believe that anybody has legitimate constitutional concerns about the legislation.”
Following are just some of the payoffs and kickbacks Sen. Reid is forcing taxpayers to foot the bill for so he can increase health care costs, raise taxes, cut seniors’ Medicare benefits, and put government bureaucrats in charge of medical decisions:
Sen. Mary Landrieu’s (D-LA) “Louisiana Purchase.” CBS News reports: “It started with Mary Landrieu. When reports surfaced she had been swayed with a $100 million Medicaid deal just for Louisiana, she bragged it was actually $300 million. The deal was so notorious, Republicans gave it a name. ‘We have new words in our lexicon, the Louisiana Purchase,’ Sen. John McCain said.”
Sen. Ben Nelson’s (D-NE) $100 Million “Cornhusker Kickback.” The Hill reports: “Nebraska will receive $100 million in assistance for its Medicaid program under provisions in the Senate’s healthcare bill negotiated by Sen. Ben Nelson (D).”
Sens. Ben Nelson (D-NE) & Carl Levin’s (D-MI) Sweetheart Deal for Nebraska/Michigan Insurance Companies. Politico reports: “In addition to the Medicaid carve out, Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) negotiated an exemption from the insurance tax for non-profit insurers based in his state. The language was written in a way that only Mutual of Omaha Insurance Company, as well as Blue Cross Blue Shield nonprofit plans in Nebraska and Michigan, would qualify, according to a Democratic Senate aide.”
Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) Takes Credit for $100 Million Hospital Earmark. The Associated Press reports: “A $100 million item for construction of a university hospital was inserted in the Senate health care bill at the request of Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., who faces a difficult re-election campaign, his office said Sunday night.” (Since this was written Sen. Dodd has announced he will be one of the many not running for re-election in 2010…I wonder why?)
Sen. Roland Burris (D-IL) Inserts Provision for ACORN Funding. The Weekly Standard reports: “Senator Roland Burris is claiming credit for a provision in Harry Reid’s ‘manager’s amendment,’ unveiled Saturday morning, that could funnel money to ACORN through the health care bill.”
Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) Secures $600 Million Medicaid Kickback. The Associated Press reports: “Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., negotiated $600 million in additional Medicaid benefits for his state over 10 years. He said Vermont is due the additional benefits because the state already has acted to expand Medicaid eligibility to the levels now contemplated by the federal government. Vermont would be unfairly penalized if other states are now being helped with that expansion, he said.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) Scores $10 Billion for Community Health Centers. The Associated Press reports: “Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who was angered after a new government-run health plan was dropped from the legislation to win over moderates like Nelson and Landrieu, held out on backing the bill until Reid, D-Nev., agreed to a $10 billion increase in support for community health centers.”
Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) Negotiates Special Deal for Florida Medicare Advantage Recipients. The Associated Press reports: “Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., pushed a provision he said will let about 800,000 Florida seniors enrolled in private Medicare Advantage plans keep their extra benefits. It also helps seniors in a handful of other states. Elsewhere, Medicare Advantage patients risk losing benefits because the private plans are a major target of planned cuts to Medicare.”
Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) Scores Extra Medicare Benefits for Montana Residents. The Associated Press reports: “Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., chairman of the Finance Committee and a key architect of the legislation, put in a provision to help the 2,900 residents of Libby, Mont., many of whom have asbestos-related illnesses from a now-defunct mineral mine. Under Baucus’ provision, which never mentions Libby by name, sickened residents could sign up for Medicare benefits.”
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) Wins More Medicare Funding for Iowa Hospitals. The Wall Street Journal reports: “One change won by Sen. Tom Harkin (D., Iowa) would increase Medicare payments to medium-size hospitals, including eight in his state. Mr. Harkin said such ‘tweener’ hospitals are short-changed by the current system.”
Sens. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) & Kent Conrad (D-ND) Win Higher Medicare Payments for Rural Hospitals . The Washington Post reports: “The Senate health-care bill has been full of goodies handed out to buy/earn the vote of various senators. … Byron Dorgan and Kent Conrad’s higher Medicare payments to hospitals and doctors in the ‘frontier counties’ of Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming.”
Attorneys general in 13 states signed a Dec. 30 letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) that was circulated by South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster. The letter labels the Nebraska deal the “cornhusker kickback” and says it is unconstitutional to require the taxpayers of 49 states to subsidize federal benefits for one state. Medicaid is a federal-state health insurance program for the poor. (See previous story.)
When asked if President Barack Obama supported the Nebraska clause, which reportedly would save the state $45 million over a decade, Gibbs did not directly answer but told CNSNews.com, “He’s a supporter of the Senate bill, so I don’t know what that will lead you to conclude.”
The House bill includes a government-run health insurance plan (“public option”) that would compete with private insurers. It also specifically bans federal funding for any health plan that covers abortion.
The Senate bill does not have a government-run plan, and does allow for federal funding of health plans that cover abortion. Both bills mandate that employers provide and individuals carry health insurance, and that the government establish a “health care exchange” to allow individuals to choose from different insurance-coverage policies.
In their Dec. 30 letter to the Democratic leaders, the attorneys general wrote: “It has been reported that Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson’s vote, for H.R. 3590 [Senate health care bill], was secured only after striking a deal that the federal government would bear the cost of newly eligible Medicaid enrollees.”
“In marked contrast, all other states would not be similarly treated, and instead would be required to allocate substantial sums, potentially totaling billions of dollars, to accommodate H.R. 3590’s new Medicaid mandates,” reads the letter.
“As a practical matter, the deal struck by the United States Senate on the ‘Nebraska Compromise’ is a disadvantage to the citizens of 49 states,” the letter says. “Every state’s tax dollars except Nebraska’s, will be devoted to cost-sharing required by the bill, and will be therefore unavailable for other essential state programs.”
The letter also includes the signatures of attorneys general from Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Michigan, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Washington state.