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As Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) desperately attempted to secure the 60 votes needed to pass his healthcare takeover bill, he cut sweetheart deal after sweetheart deal with other members of the Senate. To attract Senator Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), for example, Reid included a permanent exemption from the state share of Medicaid expansion for Nebraska. This will leave federal taxpayers footing the bill for an additional $45 million in the first decade of reform. Explaining Nelson's sweetheart deal, Reid unapologetically stated:
You’ll find a number of states that are treated differently than other states. That’s what legislating is all about. It's compromise.
Reid is right. A number of states are treated differently than others under his legislation. Some states--particularly those with senators weary about voting for Reid's reform-- are treated to millions of taxpayer dollars in exchange for their vote, while other states are forced to pick up the bill. According to Politico:
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), took credit for $10 billion in new funding for community health centers... He was clearly more enthusiastic about a bill he said he couldn’t support just three days ago.
Nelson and Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) carved out an exemption for non-profit insurers in their states from a hefty excise tax. Similar insurers in the other 48 states will pay the tax.
Vermont and Massachusetts were given additional Medicaid funding, another plus for Sanders and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) Three states – Pennsylvania, New York and Florida – all won protections for their Medicare Advantage beneficiaries at a time when the program is facing cuts nationwide.
All of this came on top of a $300 million increase for Medicaid in Louisiana, designed to win the vote of Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu.
Every one of these "compromises" comes at the expense of the American people. Not only will federal taxpayers be forced to pay for the perks enjoyed by individual states, most states will face costly new regulations. According to the Heritage Foundation:
Who are the losers? All the other states. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis of the Reid Amendment, total state funding for Medicaid and SCHIP will increase by $1 billion compared to the original legislation. Clearly if total state spending goes up and spending for a few favorite states goes down, then all the other states are picking up the tab.
New federal rules will punish states that would use the flexibility of current law to increase the share paid by with local governments for Medicaid. California and New York historically have shared the cost and administration of Medicaid with counties and municipalities. States that have not done so in the past will lose federal funds if they attempt to do so now.
Majority Leader Reid used billions of your hard-earned tax dollars to buy the votes of his colleagues. The Reid bill gives sweetheart deals to a few states while piling taxes and debt onto the rest of the country. Making unfair deals with a few Senators is the wrong way to legislate. It will not lead to the type of the reforms that the American people desire and taxpayers deserve.