State Attorney General Henry McMaster says the deal Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson struck with U.S. Senate leadership in exchange for his vote on health care reform does not follow the letter of the Constitution and “smacks of corruption.”
McMaster is one of 10 Republican state attorneys general who are questioning the constitutionality of the Medicaid deal which would exempt Nebraska from paying its share of the program’s expansion in the state. McMastercommented on what is being called the ” Cornhusker kickback” Tuesday morning on MSNBC.
“The spending power in the Congress is broad but it’s not unlimited. The case law under the Constitution has said that where you have distinctions or different treatment in a general law, that distinction must be based on a reason. Some kind of reason, like in this case, population, poverty, health facilities or something. I can’t be based on just buying a vote. That is not a good reason under the Constitution,”says McMaster.
According to the website “Politico”, the cost of Nebraska’s share of the expansion of the Medicaid program would be an estimated $100 million over 10 years.
McMaster says it is quite evident that the deal was struck only to gain a vote in order to get a piece of legislation passed in the Senate. McMaster says he and the other Republican state attorneys general are not playing politics, they are seriously expressing their concern about the constitutionality of the deal with the state of Nebraska.
“We believe that it reflects a culture of corruption that is going on in Washington. It ought to stop. With 20 percent of the state’s attorney’s general have voiced serious legal concern, I think there’s a real problem. What we hope, of course, is that the conference committee will just delete this thing from the bill and that we won’t have to consider bringing a lawsuit.”