Nelson reiterates call for relief of unfunded mandates
WASHINGTON -- Today, as conferees continue to deliberate on a final health care bill, Nebraska's Senator Ben Nelson reiterated his position regarding the unfunded mandate contained in the Senate bill in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
The text of the letter follows:
January 15, 2010
The Honorable Harry Reid
United States Senate
522 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-0001
Dear Majority Leader Reid:
As a former Governor, I have long fought against unfunded federal mandates, which force our state governments to redirect their priorities and funding to meet rules imposed by Washington, D.C. In evaluating the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, H.R. 3590, I was concerned that the Medicaid expansion in the bill represented an unfunded federal mandate since state governments would have to pay for new Medicaid enrollees after 2017.
After raising the issue of the unfunded mandate during Senate negotiations, a provision was added to exempt the State of Nebraska from paying any additional Medicaid funds as a result of the bill. This was intended to serve as a placeholder that would be removed during the conference negotiations and replaced with a mechanism applying to all state governments.
I request that this specific exemption for the State of Nebraska be removed, and that it instead be replaced with a provision giving all state governments the same treatment regarding the state match for the new Medicaid expansion.
I believe I have been clear that my intentions during all stages of negotiations were not that the State of Nebraska be given a special deal, but rather that all states be given the same tools to address an unfunded federal mandate. To remove any attempts at continued distortion or miscommunication on this point, however, I ask that the Nebraska Medicaid exemption be removed and that all states receive equal treatment under the Medicaid expansion.
Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to working with you on this matter as you continue to craft the final health care reform legislation.
E. Benjamin Nelson
United States Senator