Buying a Health Care Vote? Going Rate is a Cool $100 Million.
Ever wondered what it cost to buy a vote in the U.S. Senate?
In an apparent attempt to buy the support of a moderate Senator from Louisiana, Democrat Mary Landrieu, Senate Majority leader Henry Reid has included a $100,000,000.00 incentive for her home state.
Evidently, even with an economy going on, Henry Reid feels like this is a good deal for America.
Unable to pass a his health care bill without the support of the more fiscally responsible Senator, Reid's provision comes in the form of bonus Medicaid subsidies. While the section of the bill under discussion may seem harmless enough, it is written so as to apply to one state, and one state only.
That state, or course, is Louisiana.
ABC News' Jonathan Karl reports:
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.
Here’s the incredibly complicated language:
SEC. 2006. SPECIAL ADJUSTMENT TO FMAP DETERMINATION FOR CERTAIN STATES RECOVERING FROM A MAJOR DISASTER.
Section 1905 of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1396d), as amended by sections 2001(a)(3) and
2001(b)(2), is amended— (1) in subsection (b), in the first sentence, by striking ‘‘subsection (y)’’ and inserting ‘‘subsections (y) and (aa)’’; and (2) by adding at the end the following new subsection:
‘‘(aa)(1) Notwithstanding subsection (b), beginning January 1, 2011, the Federal medical assistance percentage for a fiscal year for a disaster-recovery FMAP adjustment State shall be equal to the following:
‘(A) In the case of the first fiscal year (or part of a fiscal year) for which this subsection applies to the State, the Federal medical assistance percentage determined for the fiscal year without regard to this subsection and subsection (y), increased by 50 percent of the number of percentage points by which the Federal medical assistance percentage determined for the State for the fiscal year without regard to this subsection and subsection (y), is less than the Federal medical assistance percentage determined for the State for the preceding fiscal year after the application of only subsection (a) of section 5001 of Public Law 111–5 (if applicable to the preceding fiscal year) and without regard to this subsection, subsection (y), and subsections (b) and (c) of section 5001 of Public Law 111–5.
Only the first two paragraphs are included here. Please see the full article for the section's rather boring text that deals with the payoff.