For A “Yes” Vote On Health Care Reform, This Little Piggy Gets …

Posted on December 20, 2009

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Senate Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) closed the deal today for the passage of the Senate’s version of health care reform with the announcement of a “yes” vote by Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) .  Nelson had been the last hold out on approval of the bill, but signed on after days of negotiation brought him to an agreement he could not refuse. 

The passage today puts us just a few steps away from beginning down a  path that could  lead to a single payer, government-run medical system.   And Senator Tom Harkin’s comments (forward to 1:34 in the clip), likening the bill to a “starter home” with “room for expansion” imply that more government control is what the Democrats will work towards. 

Given the rising unpopularity of health care reform and what people think it will mean in their own lives (see here, here, and here), a lot of wheeling and dealing had to take place in order to give senators voting “yes” some cover from the folks back home.   So, these senators lined up at the trough of taxpayer dollars in hopes to pacify their constituents.

What did these little piggies get in return for their “yes” votes?

Politico has a rundown on the giveaways:

  • Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE): This little piggy gets “a permanent exemption from the state share of Medicaid expansion for Nebraska.”  This results in other states having to cover the additional expenses of Nebraska ($45 million in the first ten years alone).  Senator Nelson also gets special excise tax exemptions for non-profit insurers in his state which other state non-profit insurers will have to pay (besides Michigan).
  • Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) This little piggy gets $10 billion for new community health centers in his state.  He may be a socialist, but he’s not cheap!  I’m sure the other sellouts are kicking themselves with what makes their deals look like a pittance in comparison to Mr. Sanders’ bounty.  Vermont will also get six years of additional Medicaid funding .
  • Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) This little piggy gets special excise tax exemptions for non-profit insurers in his state, just like Senator Nelson above.
  • Senator John Kerry (D- MA) Massachusetts gets three years of additional Medicaid funding.
  • Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) – This little piggy gets special protections from cuts in its state Medicare Advantage  program while the rest of the states do not.
  • Senators Rob Casey (D-PA) and Arlen Spector (D-PA) – These little piggies get the same Medicare Advantage protections as New York.
  • Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) – This little piggy is ditto New York and Pennsylvania above, special protections from Medicare Advantage cuts while the rest of the states get no such protections.
  • Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) This little piggy got a $300 million increase in Medicaid for her state, and bragged about it to boot.

While these senators may think their take home pork will buy them votes, I wouldn’t be so certain.  The political mood has changed lately and people are getting fed up with what can only be regarded as the total opposite of the transparency that was promised them from the current administration.   Senator Reid’s amendment was only introduced this morning and the first vote called for it will be on Monday at 1 a.m., less than 48 hours after his 380+ page amendment was introduced.  More political chicanery, including weekend and holiday votes, combined with special deals for certain states, are not going to instill confidence in the people that this congress has the people’s best interest at heart.




Posted in: Congress, Health Care