Senator Nelson, how's it going?
Last night the Nebraska Cornhuskers routed the Arizona Wildcats 33-0 in the Holiday Bowl. Most years college football bowl games do not have much to do with health care legislation in Washington. But last night, Husker fans throughout Nebraska were subjected to a 30-second television ad from Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE).
Politicians usually don’t run ads a month after November, and almost never more than two years before they are up for re-election. But after a new poll showed Nelson with a 55% unfavorable rating and down 30 points to a would-be 2012 challenger, Nelson decided to take to the air. The source of Nebraskans displeasure with Nelson is no secret. 64% of the state opposes the health care legislation Nelson recently voted for in the Senate, and only 17% approve of the special deal Nelson made for Nebraska’s Medicaid program, more commonly known as the Cornhusker Kickback, in order to secure his vote.
Nebraskans are not the only Americans disgusted by the tactics President Barack Obama and his allies are employing to pass their version of health reform. The attorneys general of 13 states have sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) demanding that the Nebraska deal be removed from the bill or they will challenge the legislation constitutionally in court.
Other states are taking a different tack, demanding that the entire Medicaid portion of the Senate bill be redone. The governors of the nation’s two largest Democratic states, New York and California, warn that the Medicaid expansion at the heart of the bill “could collapse the very safety net system it seeks to expand.” New York Governor David Patterson says the bill would leave his state $1 billion in the lurch and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger says Obamacare will drain California’s General Fund an additional $3 billion to $4 billion annually.
The fight over the Medicaid portions of the bill expose one of the dirty little secrets of Obamacare: for all the talk of fundamental reform of the system, over half of the health insurance coverage additions in both the House and Senate bills come from the expansion of Medicaid.
Medicaid was chosen to do the bulk of the health insurance expansion under Obamacare because it is cheap. But as Americans instinctively know: cheaper does not mean better. The President’s own Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have warned that the lower Medicaid reimbursements will mean those who gain insurance under Obamacare through Medicaid will have a very difficult time finding doctors to treat them.
There is a reason government-run single payer health care advocates rally under the slogan “Medicare for All.” Medicare is actually popular among those who use it. But Americans who think they are gaining real health insurance under Obamacare are going to be in for a rude awakening when they discover they ended up with “Medicaid for All” instead.