New Bill, New PerksMarch 19, 2010 - by Donny Shaw
With the release of the new package of fixes to the Senate health care bill, some of the most porky items in the bill, like the “Cornhusker Kickback,” the “Louisiana Purchase” and the “Gator Aid,” have been eliminated. But some new state-specific provisions have also been added.
The 153 pages of changes to the massive health care package include extra money for hospitals in Tennessee that serve large numbers of low-income patients. And though the bill would revamp the nation’s student loan system to make the government the only lender, one bank – the state-owned Bank of North Dakota – would be allowed to continue making student loans.
Sen. Kent Conrad [D, ND] has already asked for the Bank of North Dakota provision to be removed:
That provision ended up rubbing Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., the wrong way. Fearing it would become a target by Republicans in what he said is “an overly heated partisan environment,” he asked the House late Thursday to remove it from the legislation.
And Rep. Bart Gordon [D, TN-6], a proponent of the extra money for Tennessee hospitals, denies that it has influenced his decision to vote for the bill:
Retiring Rep. Bart Gordon, D-Tenn., has fought for the funds for years to bring the state’s aid up to par with the rest of the country, spokeswoman Emily Phelps said. She said their inclusion had nothing to do with his announcement Thursday that he will vote for the final health legislation after opposing an earlier version in November.
The AP provides this handy list of the other state-specific provisions that remain in the bill:
- Retains $300 million in extra Medicaid aid for Louisiana, which had helped win support for the Senate health bill from Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La. The state is still struggling to recover from Hurricane Katrina.
- Keeps $100 million included in the Senate bill that is expected to go for a public hospital in Connecticut sought by Dodd, who is retiring.
- Preserves language won by Baucus permitting many of the 2,900 residents of Libby, Mont., to qualify for Medicare benefits. Some of them have asbestos-related diseases from a now-shuttered mine.
- Provides an additional $8.5 billion over the next decade for 11 states and the District of Columbia to help them pay for the more generous Medicaid assistance they have been providing low-income residents. These states are Arizona, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.
- Maintains a Senate-approved provision giving extra money for hospitals and doctors in North and South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming.