South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster and 12 other state attorneys general sent a letter Wednesday to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid threatening legal action over a health care bill provision which would exempt Nebraska from paying its regular share of the proposed Medicaid expansion.
The provisions has been called the “cornhusker kickback.” This is what Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson had to say about it. “It’s not a gift to Nebraska,” says Senator Nelson. “I take exception to that. It’s not a bribe as some have said. There were two things that were required in the vote. One was the abortion language, that I was satisfied with, and the second was that there was no public option in the plan.”
In response, McMaster says, “Well it certainly looks like it. From what we gather from every report it is a gift to Nebraska. The Governor out there has come out against it, as has the other senator. And I understand many of the citizens out there have come out against it. They don’t want an advantage over other states, for other states to be paying their share of the Medicaid expansion.”
According to the website “politico,” the cost of Nebraska’s share of the Medicaid expansion would be an estimated $100 million over 10 years.
As his research into the proposal continues, McMaster hopes that the special provision for Nebraska will be pulled out when the final proposal is hammered out in a conference committee consisting of Senators and House members.
McMaster says he received a letter from Senator Lindsey Graham December 21st asking for research into the proposal’s constitutionality.
McMaster says this goes off the scale of Washington politics. “No ones accusing anyone of a crime,” he says. “But it doesn’t look right. The people in South Carolina don’t like it. I think they’re tired of culture of corruption in Washington where votes are bought and sold like that.”
McMaster says he’s not saying that a crime was committed. “When you make a distinction of one state as opposed to another like that there needs to be a reason,” he says. “Like a reason based on population or poverty. But it has to be a good reason. And I don’t think getting someone’s vote, what looks like a bribe, is a good reason, I don’t think.”
In response to the letter sent to House leadership, Congressman Jim Clyburn, who will serve on a health care conference committee, said, “This threat stinks of partisan politics. If Henry McMaster wants to write federal law he should run for Congress not governor. When a final version of health care reform is passed, it will be fair and in accordance with constitutional law not because of partisan threats but because the Congress wants to ensure accessible, affordable, quality health care for all Americans.”