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Wasden signs letter demanding removal of "Nebraska Compromise" from health reform bill

Wasden signs letter demanding removal of "Nebraska Compromise" from health reform bill

Dustin Hurst
January 5, 2010
Dustin Hurst
Author Image
January 5, 2010

Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden has joined with 12 other state attorneys general in a letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid asking that they remove the so-called “Nebraska Compromise” from the pending health care reform bill.

In an interview with IdahoReporter.com, Wasden’s spokesman Bob Cooper confirmed that South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster, who is leading the push for an investigation into the legitimacy and legality of the proposed health care bill, invited the Idaho Attorney General to sign the letter asking for the alteration of the legislation, an invitation which Wasden accepted.

The letter, available here, asks Pelosi and Reid to delete the provision in the proposed health care bill that would require the federal government to pay Nebraska’s increased Medicaid costs.  Under the provision, designed to secure the vote of Sen. Ben Nelson, D-NE, Nebraska would be relieved of paying for new patients enrolled in Medicaid under expanded limits in the new legislation.  Estimates are that the exemption for Nebraska could cost other states up to $100 million over the next ten years.

The thirteen Attorneys General, all Republicans, called on Reid and Pelosi to remove the provision on the grounds it is “constitutionally flawed” and violates “the most basic and universal notions of what is fair and just.”  They go on to contend the cost-sharing other states would be forced to endure as a result of the deal would reduce those state’s abilities to provide essential services to their respective constituents.

Though the group is pondering the possibility of legal action if the bill passes, Cooper warned there is no action on the matter at this time, at least in Wasden’s office.  Cooper explained that if the bill is passed without removal of the vote-getting compromise, Wasden’s office will “review the legislation in its final form and then go from there.”

And though critics claim the effort is simply grandstanding by Republicans running for office order to score political points, Cooper denies that notion, at least concerning Wasden.

“He is not prone to political grandstanding,” said Cooper.  “Whether the others are or not, I can’t speak for them.”  Wasden has served as Idaho Attorney General since 2003 and is up for re-election this Novemeber.

In response to the letter by the Attorneys General, Regan LaChapelle, Sen. Reid's Deputy Director of Communications, issued this statement on behalf of the Senator:

"This letter is the Republicans' latest effort to distract and divert attention from the fact that they have chosen to protect their insurance company friends rather than reform our health care system. The only lawsuit that seems to make sense is the one charging Republican officeholders in Washington, D.C. with Malpractice and neglect for their unwillingness to help reform a system that is failing millions of Americans."

Calls to the office of Speaker Pelosi were not returned.

Wasden is not the first state-level political figure to threaten legal action over the proposed health care reform legislation. Last week, Idaho Governor Butch Otter sent a letter to Reid and Pelosi in which he said he will consider taking legal action “to protect Idaho and the U.S. Constitution should Congress adopt and the President sign compromise health care legislation.”  Otter calls the compromises and deals brokered by Congressional leaders to gain votes “undemocratic and inequitable.”  The Governor specifically points to “The Nebraska Compromise” as well as “The New Louisiana Purchase,” a deal which was brokered by Reid to secure the vote of Sen. Mary Landrieu and provides an extra $300 million in Medicaid funding to the state of Louisiana, as evidence for his argument.

You can read Otter's letter here.

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