Letter to the Editor

Nelson: Effort intended for all states

Thursday, January 7, 2010

As a United States senator I've said that I will put Nebraska first, Nebraska always, but not Nebraska only. That remains the case with questions about how the Senate health care bill dealt with an underfunded mandate for expanding Medicaid.

Unfortunately, a few missing facts have been overlooked in pursuit of a good story. The fact is about a week before the bill passed I brought to the attention of Senate leaders that beginning in 2017, substantial cost for the Medicaid expansion would shift to the states. I was concerned about the impact on all states, which stems from my two terms as governor and seeing the federal government pass on mandates and little or no money to carry them out.

I proposed to Senate leaders that the health reform bill be changed giving every state an opportunity to opt in to the cost of new Medicaid expansion responsibilities. That way, they could choose to pay the costs, or they could avoid this unfunded mandate.

My concerns were underscored by a letter Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman sent to me on Dec. 16, saying: "The state of Nebraska cannot afford an unfunded mandate -- of this magnitude." I agreed and wrote back noting I had proposed an opt-in mechanism providing an opportunity for relief for the states. I was looking for a way to help every state beginning in 2017, when federal funds would be reduced.

In the absence of a fiscal analysis from the Congressional Budget Office, Senate leaders were unable to accept my provision. Instead they gave fiscal relief to Nebraska, which has been misinterpreted by many, including some attorneys general. Regardless of the language in the bill, my intent has been and remains clear. Every state should be treated the same.

I pointed this out in a Dec. 22 speech on the Senate floor about the provision. "It is, in fact, an opportunity to get rid of an unfunded federal mandate for all the states. Let me repeat that: For all the states, "What we've done is we've drawn a line and said that this is unacceptable for all states."

Now, during the Senate and House conference committee negotiations an effort must be made to treat all states equally and fairly concerning the Medicaid expansion. At the end of the day, whatever Nebraska gets will be available to all states, just like a deal I worked on for the 2003 tax cuts with Sen. Susan Collins of Maine. Back then, we persuaded Congress to approve $20 billion in additional fiscal relief for all states. They needed it to make up for state revenue losses resulting from the tax cuts.

Hopefully, this set of facts will eliminate any misunderstanding about my recent efforts. The next steps will occur during the conference negotiations. I am working for and expect a solution that will not apply to only a single state, but equally to every state.

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  • OMG! he must think we are all idiots!

    -- Posted by remington81 on Thu, Jan 7, 2010, at 3:09 PM
  • *

    The guy has no shame!! I guess one good lie deserves another, and another, and another.................

    -- Posted by ksfarmer on Thu, Jan 7, 2010, at 5:19 PM


    -- Posted by Old Guard on Fri, Jan 8, 2010, at 8:05 AM
  • @ Posted by remington81 on Thu, Jan 7, 2010,


    Given that a Nebraska STATE legislator named John Nelson has received hundreds of e-mails complaining about his vote on this issue


    There may be legitimate reason to come to that conclusion.

    -- Posted by davis_x_machina on Fri, Jan 8, 2010, at 10:22 AM
  • Now it was intended for ALL states and those "other Senate leaders", against Ben's will, of course, put it in there because... why? Why would they do that if the Senator really wanted that to be available to ALL the states. Then, Ben stood around complaining about the Governor not asking him to remove it which the Governor had to come out on national tv to put an end to this "I didn't hear back from him" game the Senator has been playing.

    Compare these two statements from Ben.

    This is after Ben saying it was for "all" states:

    "In the absence of a fiscal analysis from the Congressional Budget Office, Senate leaders were unable to accept my provision. Instead they gave fiscal relief to Nebraska, which has been misinterpreted by many, including some attorneys general. Regardless of the language in the bill, my intent has been and remains clear. Every state should be treated the same."

    ... and before it was intended for "all" states

    "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."

    Well, the governor has let him know on national tv what he wants done, so Ben can't hide behind that anymore. That's just one of the fake games politicians play that make people sick. Congrats on becoming a professional politician, Senator.

    -- Posted by McCook1 on Fri, Jan 8, 2010, at 1:41 PM
  • Even George Costanza figured out a rebuttable quicker than ol' Ben did. (the Jerk Store called and they're all out of you - anyone?). It sure took Ben a while to get around to THIS defense. He really does takes us for fools. What a joke.

    -- Posted by MRswNebr on Fri, Jan 8, 2010, at 1:59 PM
  • *

    Benedict Nelson's "Honesty"

    What do you say about an elected official who told two thirds of his constituents that he knows better than they do? Did anyone REALLY vote for this guy because they thought we are too stupid to know what's best for our families and state, and that Nelson is such an intellectual and knows better? When Nelson is quoted as saying things like "I don't have to say Madam may I" and "I am the Legislator!", it is glaringly obvious that you are dealing with an out-of-touch egomaniac.

    Anyone with a modicum of common sense knows that we don't elect representatives to go off to Washington or Lincoln and just do whatever they please without consulting We The People. If this had been a near fifty-fifty split then Nelson would have had to make a decision, but that wasn't the case. He blatantly and arrogantly disregarded the overwhelming majority. Where is the honesty in that? Where is the honor in that? If anyone actually votes for someone like this then they either flunked Civics or are addicted to government entitlements and progressive Kool-Aid (for those in Rio Linda, the Jim Jones type).

    Additionally, after Nelson first started taking heat from all sides, why did he blame Gov. Heineman, then when that lie didn't stick to the wall, he said it was Republicans, then Pro-Lifers, then "misinformed" (ignorant) Nebraskans, then as of late he even tried to point the finger at Obama saying it was his fault for trying to do health-despair in 2009? Nelson's hubris in trying to save face and blame shifting is a real slap in the face to all his constituents.

    Now he is saying, you know that bribe I got for Nebraska? All along I was trying to get it for all the states! REALLY? Why then are none of your other buddies rushing to the microphone to try and defend that statement? In the words of Joe Wilson: You Lie!

    Short list of Nelson's dastardly deeds in this bill:

    * Forcing ALL U.S. citizens to buy anything, let alone health insurance is most likely unconstitutional and has no legal precedent. This is not REAL health care reform and is a power grab by the majority who want eventual control of another 20% of our economy -- that's why it is being rushed, and crammed through in locked backrooms, without even being read.

    * More and more economists are coming out saying this bill will not be deficit neutral, especially if all states get the now infamous "Cornhusker Kickback" that we got for Medicaid. This is more of Nelson's deficit spending like the UNL Nano-crapola buy out paid for with printed/borrowed Chinese money.

    *No major pro-life group, Evangelicals & Catholic Bishops, or even the Stupak Democrats support Nelson's abortion "compromise". Why are rabidly pro-abortion officials like Schumer, Boxer, Sebelius, etc. praising Nelson's "compromise"? Stop and think about it. Beyond that, instead of just reissuing the same old talking points, why doesn't Nelson answer the critics concerns? The burden of proof lies on him.

    *As Nelson's senator buddy in Iowa said, "this is just the starter home" on government-run, single-payer healthcare as in socialist countries. If you think government-run, on-the-verge-of bankruptcy programs like Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, Amtrak, Postal Service, and the IRS are the way to go, then I've got a bridge over the Platte River I'd like to sell you...

    This bill, if passed, will lead to rationed health care like they complain about in Canada, Britain, and the rest of Europe. If compassion is bringing everyone down to the same level of misery and being Medicaid recipients is so great, then why are Ben Nelson & his buddies in Congress, big labor unions, and Gov't employees exempt?

    Finally, I really feel sorry for any Scouts and especially Eagle Scouts who may have looked up to Nelson as a hero or role model. Renaming the airport and putting up a statue is really going to bring shame upon the fine people of McCook who hold firm to their faith, principles, honor, and integrity. Compromising any of these in the name of "compromise" truly shows the dishonorable nature of the person in question.

    Recall Benedict Nelson!

    -- Posted by NebraskaMark on Sat, Jan 9, 2010, at 7:07 PM
  • Poor Ben isn't smart enough to just keep his mouth shut, the more he talks the deeper the hole. According to Omaha.com he said "It is important to read the bills fine print" I guess he forgot to read it. He also said it will lower families costs, not according to the GAO's analysis.

    -- Posted by geewhiz on Mon, Jan 11, 2010, at 2:49 PM
  • Just keep on paying those 100% increase in insurance/health cost without anyone taking the insurance companies to the woodshed..Amazing all comments coming from mostly government workers on government health policy ....try keeping up if your a self employeed business.....its not working and Ben Nelson was smart enough to call leaders on it.......Dont worry Ben these namecallers will figure it out someday......

    -- Posted by Cornwhisperer on Thu, Jan 14, 2010, at 2:28 PM
  • If you want to controll health care costs you need to stop frivilous lawsuits and the insane malpractice suits that go on each and every day. Of course Ben didn't want to get any kind of Tort reform into the bill proably since the trial lawyers are one of the biggest contributors to the Democrats.

    -- Posted by Chaco1 on Thu, Jan 14, 2010, at 6:35 PM
  • Other options for cutting costs is stop paying for Illegals healtcare and how about letting every insurance company compete in every state? there are thousands of companies and only a few that can compete in nebraska.

    -- Posted by Chaco1 on Fri, Jan 15, 2010, at 4:26 PM
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