Friday, November 20, 2009

The $100 Million Health Care Vote?

ABC's Jonathan Karl reports on $100 Million Health Care Vote "buyoff" of Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA), a Senator who has been wavering on the health care bill and whose vote Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid absolutely needs.
What does it take to get a wavering senator to vote for health care reform?

Here’s a case study.

On page 432 of the Reid bill, there is a section increasing federal Medicaid subsidies for “certain states recovering from a major disaster.”

The section spends two pages defining which “states” would qualify, saying, among other things, that it would be states that “during the preceding 7 fiscal years” have been declared a “major disaster area.”

I am told the section applies to exactly one state: Louisiana, the home of moderate Democrat Mary Landrieu, who has been playing hard to get on the health care bill.

In other words, the bill spends two pages describing would could be written with a single world: Louisiana. (This may also help explain why the bill is long.)

Senator Harry Reid, who drafted the bill, cannot pass it without the support of Louisiana’s Mary Landrieu.

How much does it cost? According to the Congressional Budget Office: $100 million.
Karl also includes the two pages of legislative language, which is quite dense that demonstrates the lengths to which Congress will go to protect an earmark or payoff.

Now, this is not the first time that complex legislative language has been used to hide a goody sent to a particular state or district in order to garner support, nor will it be the last time.

But the scale of this section is simply mind-boggling.

I wonder what Governor Bobby Jindal (R-LA) thinks about the influx of money? Will he accept it? Will he use it? My sense might be no--and remember, Bobby Jindal probably knows more about government run health care policy that half the Senate put together. Jindal was the staff director of the National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare, a former Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services and the director of the Louisiana Hospital System.

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