The “cornhusker kickback,” the highly controversial provision designed to benefit Nebraska’s Medicaid program, has been dropped from the national health care reform proposal, according to national reports quoting the bill negotiators.
South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster and 14 other state Attorneys General, including two Democrats and the rest Republicans) had threatened to sue if the bill required the federal government to pay for an expansion of Nebraska’s Medicaid program.
McMaster addressed the National Press Club about the issue in the nation’s capitol last week. McMaster pointed out that Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson’s vote was the critical vote that allowed the reform package to move forward in the Senate. “Under the Constitution, there are many reasons for putting things into bills,” said McMaster. “But to achieve somebody’s vote on a bill that is national in scope is not one that is recognized by the Constitution, as we see it. So as the bill passed under those circumstances there were a number of us who had questions about it.”
“If there had been a distinction made about the volume of potential Medicaid recipients, or something in health care that was different in Nebraska, then that would be a different story on the constitutionality,” said McMaster. “That’s why there are often distinctions between states with national legislation, and a lot of horse trading, as we all know. But there’s always a reason.”
U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham and Jim Demint asked McMaster to review the provision.
Democratic Representative Rob Andrews of New Jersey said he and other negotiators agreed to drop the provision. He says the final bill will treat all states equally concerning Medicaid.
Sen. Nelson asked Friday that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to remove Nebraska’s exemption, and replace it with a provision giving all state governments the same treatment regarding the state match for the new Medicaid expansion. At that point, officials said that negotiators decided to increase federal Medicaid funding in all states.
Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina told the World-Herald News Service that a health care plan will be going to CBO very soon. The Congressional Budget Office is the official arbiter of the cost and extent of coverage that any legislation would provide.