Here are some of my first thoughts on the evident Democratic victory—obtaining the 60 necessary votes to pass the Reid health care bill. As I sit completely snowed in a storm of blizzard proportions, which will keep me homebound for at least three to four days, I watched both Harry Reid’s morning press conference and the response later by Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
First, Reid candidly explained how what he called the political process of legislating led to the special treatment on Medicaid given to the state of Nebraska. Because many poor states will find that that the expansion of this program in the new bill will mean that they cannot meet the necessary funding that comes from their own state budgets, they will be in danger of a major shortfall or bankruptcy, thereby having to increase state taxes to cover the difference.
Now, however, the bill singles out Nebraska for very special treatment. As today’s New York Times reports, “The amendment also includes a special extension solely for Nebraska: increased federal contributions to the cost of an expansion of Medicaid, the state-federal insurance program for the poor.” The effect of this is that unlike other states, Nebraskans will not have to worry about how to fund the increased cost of Medicaid expansion in their state—forever!
Moreover, as Reihan Salam points out, “Nebraska is a relatively low-poverty state, with a poverty rate of 10.6 percent of households. Fifteen other states have lower poverty rates while thirty-five have higher poverty rates. Yet it seems that Nebraska, by virtue of its impressively stubborn Democratic senator, will receive unusually generous treatment.”