And Then There Were 60: Deal Finally Reached With Sen. Nelson on Health Care Bill

December 19, 2009

(ChattahBox)—As a snow storm began to swirl outside the Capitol building late Friday evening, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) finally reached a compromise deal with the last Democratic holdout to support the health care reform bill. And the recalcitrant Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE), the most conservative member in the Democratic caucus, didn’t come cheap. He held health care reform hostage for weeks, until he extorted concessions from Reid and the White House, on language limiting indirect federal subsidies to be used for abortion procedures. Nelson was also successful in obtaining a special provision just for Nebraska, which would cover the state’s entire cost for the bill’s expansion of Medicaid. The measure would deliver tens of million in federal Medicaid funds to Nebraska.

And that’s not all. Nelson also pressured Reid to alter the proposed national insurance plan that would have been run by the federal government, similar to the health insurance coverage made available to federal workers. Instead, Reid’s new proposal would allow the federal government to contract with a nonprofit insurer to provide Americans an alternative to plans offered by commercial insurers. The nonprofit insurers would be required to offer a minimum level of quality insurance plans at an affordable cost.

The abortion language proved to be the most contentious, and the final compromise was hammered out with pro-choice advocates Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Patty Murray (D-WA). The final language allows states to opt out of abortion coverage, if they enact a special law and provides a mechanism for separating federal and private funds in the insurance exchange, so that only private premiums would be used for abortion procedures.

Sens. Boxer and Murray issued a joint statement, saying that they were pleased with the compromise:

“We said all along that we wanted to ensure there was a firewall between private and public funds — this compromise achieves that,” they said. “We said we would not accept language that prohibited a woman from using her own private funds for her legal reproductive health care – this compromise meets that test.”

Sen. Nelson appeared before reporters today to explain his compromise deal for his support of the health care reform bill. He said he would not obstruct the bill, but he warned that if the final bill, once merged with the House’s version of health reform, differed in a material way from his original compromise, he would vote no on the final cloture motion.

“I know this is hard for some of my colleagues to accept and I appreciate their right to disagree,” he said at a news conference in the Capitol, referring to the abortion issue. “But I would not have voted for this bill without these provisions,” said Nelson on Saturday. Nelson also boasted that he was pleased that he was able to alter what he viewed, as a government-run insurance option to compete with private insurers.

With Nelson’s decision to vote yes for cloture to allow the bill come to a vote, President Obama appears to be on the verge of succeeding in his campaign promise to enact reform to our nation’s broken health care system.

Meanwhile, Republicans continue to obstruct and delay. They demanded that the entire health care ammendment package introduced this morning by Reid, nearly 400 pages long, be read out loud in its entirety, which is expected to take up most of the day.



One Response to “And Then There Were 60: Deal Finally Reached With Sen. Nelson on Health Care Bill”

  1. Operation Rescue: Sen Nelson ‘Pro-life Traitor,’ Same as ‘Slave Traders’ | ChattahBox News Blog on January 3rd, 2010 9:18 pm

    […] Despite holding up the Senate’s health care bill for weeks, until he demanded and received restrictive language banning federal subsidies for abortion procedures, the militant group has attacked the conservative pro-life lawmaker as a “pro-life […]

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