Misunderstandings in health care bill confuse the public

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

It's unfortunate that a provision in the health care bill that will help Nebraska taxpayers and eventually taxpayers in all states picked up an unfair nickname -- "The Cornhusker Kickback" -- because it is definitely not a kickback that came in exchange for my vote. Partisan misnomers like this are designed to confuse the public about an important issue.

The provision makes the federal government live up to its responsibilities and quit passing unfunded federal mandates down to the states. This is something I've been fighting since I was governor. When the federal government requires the states to do something the federal government should pay for it, not the states.

Nebraska Leads the Way

This is a matter of basic fairness in which Nebraska is leading the way. Already, two other states, Vermont and Massachusetts, are included and senators from other states, inspired by the Nebraska example against unfunded federal mandates, have begun talking about including their states as well before it takes effect in 2017.

I talked about this during negotiations; a provision to allow states to opt in or opt out as they chose but the Congressional Budget Office was unable to get figures to the majority leader in time for it to enter discussions. It was understood that it could be fixed during conference to apply to other states.

What It Means to Nebraska

Studies estimate that the expansion could cover an additional 83,000 to 106,000 Nebraskans when Medicaid income eligibility levels become effective in 2014.

Governor Heineman is concerned about the extra cost to Nebraska which he said would be $45 million by 2019. On December 16th he wrote to me saying that "the state of Nebraska cannot afford an unfunded mandate and uncontrolled spending of this magnitude."

I took the governor's concerns to the Senate majority leader who then added a provision extending federal payment for Nebraska's new Medicaid enrollees and the rest is history.

The issue only became controversial when partisans who wanted to derail health care reform for political reasons entered the picture. When that happened I wrote back to the governor on December 20th saying that I would ask that the provision be removed if that was his desire. I haven't heard back.

Not a Deal Breaker

This would not have prevented me from voting for the bill. Deal breakers that would have prevented me from voting for it were if there would have been a public insurance option, which there isn't, or if the bill would have allowed federal funding for abortions, which it does not.

I truly believe that a competitive health care system will lower costs and provide better health care for the American people without increasing taxes on the middle class or increasing the deficit.

Change is never easy...but change is what is needed in America's health care system today. Ask someone whose been denied insurance because of a pre existing condition or someone who can no longer afford insurance because of huge premium increases each year. This is why I supported this legislation.

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  • Oh poor Ben he is just so misunderstood of course we little folk are just too stupid to understand. Well Senator if it walks like a duck, looks like a duck and quacks like a duck it must be a duck.

    Spin away ben but we know you sold your vote plain and simple. You toed the party line and voted the way Harry Reid told you to. If unfunded mandates was such a big issue you did not have to go along with them for 47 other states.

    I hope you got a good ambasadorship or some other cushy job as part of the deal you made because I doubt the 67% of Nebraskans who opposed healtcare will forget before then.

    -- Posted by Chaco1 on Tue, Dec 29, 2009, at 10:26 AM
  • Yes, Ben, I am confused. Now you say that you asked for the provision on the health care reform to be funded. I believe I read in an earlier post from you, that you did NOT ask for the provision of the "Cornhusker Kickback". Maybe we are confused because it started with you. I believe as Chaco1 does,you had better made a great

    deal for your vote, because Nebraska voters are going to make sure you will not be a senator for another term!

    -- Posted by redjacket on Tue, Dec 29, 2009, at 11:06 AM
  • Thank you Ben Nelson finally someone willing to say enough is enough to Big greedy insurance companies who have not ever held back on price increases...I bet if most people were paying 100% of current insurance costs and all past increases vs their employer or state/local government/military paying it for them they would not be so against this new program.....All i say give them a chance i vote republican for last 30 plus years and not one did anything when they could have long time ago to stop insurance/health care costs from what they are today.....

    -- Posted by Cornwhisperer on Tue, Dec 29, 2009, at 11:26 AM
  • Jlake, you need to read up! This bill gives a pass to the big insurance companies. I'm not for the bill (gov has no place in my health care matters), but I'm smart enough to actually do a little research. Oh and don't forget some of bens biggest contributors are big insurance companies. Over 2 million last year!

    -- Posted by remington81 on Tue, Dec 29, 2009, at 12:14 PM
  • *

    In view of all the flak Nelson has been taking in recent days, and the dishonor he has brought upon our fair state, he released a new set of falsehoods today in a pitiful attempt to shift the blame for his vote of betraying the unborn, and the will of the vast majority of Nebraskans. He repeated all his tired arguments that have already been debunked by numerous news, pro-life, and healthcare sources as he once again tried to rationalize his vote. If anyone doubts that, even the pro-abortion politicians are singing the praises of his so called "compromise". Beyond that even Democrat Rep. Stupak, who developed the anti-abortion language in the House bill decried Nelson's sellout to abortion proponents. There is no coincidence on the timing of Nelson's statement in light of some terrible polling numbers that came out for Nelson today.

    To paraphrase the e-mail we recieved, Nelson says he sold out the unborn and Nebraskans for a kickback because his liberal cabal threatened to use Reconciliation, or a simple majority of 51 votes to pass the Senate healthdespair bill. His rationale is that if he hadn't sold us out, we would have gotten even a worse deal. Wow, that was really honorable, wasn't it?! So much for standing firm for principles and morals. Won't the other Eagle Scouts be proud of Nelson's example? Has he been in D.C. so long that he thinks we Cornhuskers are that stupid and degenerate?

    With this kind of defense it is now beyond dispute that Nelson's moral compass (or lack thereof) is completely and permanently broken. Nelson's resignation or a recall are the only solutions left to us as the liberal majority in the Senate will never vote to remove their 60th vote. If Nebraskans voted this Judas into office, Nebraskans should have the power to remove him. Return the rights back to the states and ask your state representatives to push for recall legislation.

    -- Posted by NebraskaMark on Tue, Dec 29, 2009, at 7:16 PM
  • Ben - Martha Stewart didn't go to jail for selling the stock. It was the lie she told after she sold the stock.

    Your explanation is going to get you in trouble. You "brokered" your vote. We all know it. Now keep your mouth shut before you get into trouble.

    -- Posted by wallismarsh on Tue, Dec 29, 2009, at 8:33 PM
  • Ben is forgetting the voters now and is turning to the big money People Now!!!! He knows where to get it and become famous!!!!!!Nebraska

    Nebraska football is 4th in the nation---value and profit!!!!!!! Forbes magazine 12-28-09

    Now he is with the big money makers, one is a coach and the other one was.

    He knows the big money people and how too get what he wants.

    He might even be seen with them at half time.


    He knows what to do and where to go.

    Better watch the bowl game and see all of the great famous people!!!!!!!!! ITS CALLED SPORTS.

    -- Posted by Just a reader on Wed, Dec 30, 2009, at 7:18 PM
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    Is it any wonder that Nelson chose not to try and defend his "compromise" on abortion during his interruption of the Nebraska - Arizona game? What more proof do we need that Benedict Nelson betrayed the unborn and Nebraskans for his sleazy backroom "Cornhusker Kickback". Ben is no Cornhusker and instead is a Huckster, and has brought shame and dishonor upon our great state. It's time to put O'l Ben out to pasture in New York State where he can continue to hunt with his bosom buddy Chuck Schumer.

    -- Posted by NebraskaMark on Wed, Dec 30, 2009, at 10:13 PM
  • -- Posted by Hugh Jassle on Wed, Dec 30, 2009, at 10:16 PM
  • Gee, I thought Nebraskans were incapable of the sort of sleeze that we Californians dish up regularly in our political dealings. I guess Ben Nelson has proved me wrong. Is Nebraska now going to change its nickname to the "Cornhuckster State"?

    What a pity. I trust there are still enough true Cornhuskers out there to successfully prosecute a recall of the disgraced senator. Why wait until 2012?

    -- Posted by mcarroll_91786@yahoo.com on Wed, Dec 30, 2009, at 11:12 PM
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    Unfortunately Ben Nelson has done a terrible disservice to Nebraskans. He is making Nebraska and himself the laughing stock of the nation. Names like the Cornsucker State are already prevalent not to mention the guffaws McCook will receive by naming the airport after the illustrious senator.

    It is one thing if a person wants to self destruct but it is quite another when he takes his state and hometown down with him. Ben Nelson will always be remembered but in a way he didn't plan.

    -- Posted by ksfarmer on Thu, Dec 31, 2009, at 1:35 AM
  • Oh my all you moral people that know so much about ******.....perhaps you all have personal experience with them?

    Do any of you really think that Nebraska will actually get anything from the so called Cornhusker Kickback, crap it's going to be 7 years before it takes effect, do any of you really think that the other 49 states will set back and allow it to happen, 13 states have already filed a lawsuit to stop it. They will either stop Nebraska from receiving one red cent or the other 49 will also get the same "corrupt, and immoral" deal that Nebraska got.

    What is corrupt and immoral is all the unfunded mandates that keep coming down the pike from D.C.

    I wonder how many of you moral people have ever told a car dealer that you would not take a sweet deal on a car that say 49 other customers had not gotten, even though it would have enriched your family's budget situation. How do you spell hypocrite? Whiney Hiney wants his cake and wants to eat it too.

    -- Posted by goarmy67 on Thu, Dec 31, 2009, at 9:19 PM
  • AMazing how someone can defend the exact person who voted for unfunded mandates and has been doing so for years and then tries to make him as some kind of hero for doing it. Yes it is unlikely this deal is not going to pass the smell test and will be thrown out as it should be. Fact is Ben should never have done it if he had any morals in the first place. He sold his vote what is so hard about that.

    Your car analogy is not good at all. The difference is Ben is spending other peoples money when I buy a car it is my money. Governement exists as force and when they take away money from one at the pont of a gun and give it to someone else that is pure evil plain and simple just legalized theft.

    Can any of you pro heltcare and pro ben folks plese point out to me where in the constitution it says the gubment should provide let alone be involved in health care?

    -- Posted by Chaco1 on Fri, Jan 1, 2010, at 10:48 AM
  • Jlake does not know anything aobut insurance, where those huge profits are 2.2%, according to AP, Oct. 17. He is drinking the koolaid served by the All Barack Cheerleeders network.

    Ben sold us out more than one way. He is a former insurance director, and knows the rules about insurance fraud. We cannot buy life insurance, property insurance, life insurance, disability insurance, or long term care insurance after claim begins without prosecution for insurance fraud.

    But now he and his accomplices have destroyed actuarial science and installed adverse selection in health insurance by requireing we buy it, and have no penalty for buying after the claim. He then proposes that it will save money for the insured. Ben and Reid have perpetrated the biggest insurance fraud scam ever devised, and packaged it as an entitlement. It cannot save money, and will have hidden premiums called taxes.

    Reid went even further in the Managers Amendment, where he prevented wellness programs from charging for those causing the claims.

    -- Posted by shredder09 on Sat, Jan 2, 2010, at 12:16 PM
  • *

    Check out the excellent portrait of Ben here and some good comments as well!


    -- Posted by NebraskaMark on Sat, Jan 2, 2010, at 3:07 PM
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