Stocking Stuffers: Payoffs, Kickbacks, Sweetheart Deals Abound in Sen. Reid’s Gov’t Takeover of Health Care |

Americans are still combing through all the sweetheart deals Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) made in order to jam through his government takeover of health care on the night before Christmas.  To be fair, Washington Democrats are making it easier to sort out this calamity by rushing to take credit for all these payoffs, proving once again how out of touch they are with the everyday challenges Americans are facing.  Sen. Reid actually took the shameless self-promotion a step further by saying “it doesn’t speak well” of any senator who didn’t secure a piece of the action.

House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) blasted Sen. Reid’s wheeling and dealing:

“Senate Democrats have sunk to plenty of new lows to jam through this government takeover of health care, but putting their votes on the auction block tops them all. Washington Democrats clearly cannot be trusted with hard-working taxpayers’ money. My message to the American people is now is not the time to give up.  Now is the time to speak out, more loudly and clearly than ever, against this monstrosity.”

Following are just some of the payoffs and kickbacks Sen. Reid is forcing taxpayers to foot the bill for so he can increase health care costs, raise taxes, cut seniors’ Medicare benefits, and put government bureaucrats in charge of medical decisions:


Sen. Mary Landrieu’s (D-LA) “Louisiana Purchase.”  CBS News reports: “It started with Mary Landrieu. When reports surfaced she had been swayed with a $100 million Medicaid deal just for Louisiana, she bragged it was actually $300 million. The deal was so notorious, Republicans gave it a name. ‘We have new words in our lexicon, the Louisiana Purchase,’ Sen. John McCain said.”


Sen. Ben Nelson’s (D-NE) $100 Million “Cornhusker Kickback.”  The Hill reports: “Nebraska will receive $100 million in assistance for its Medicaid program under provisions in the Senate's healthcare bill negotiated by Sen. Ben Nelson (D).”


Sens. Ben Nelson (D-NE) & Carl Levin’s (D-MI) Sweetheart Deal for Nebraska/Michigan Insurance Companies.  Politico reports: In addition to the Medicaid carve out, Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) negotiated an exemption from the insurance tax for non-profit insurers based in his state. The language was written in a way that only Mutual of Omaha Insurance Company, as well as Blue Cross Blue Shield nonprofit plans in Nebraska and Michigan, would qualify, according to a Democratic Senate aide.”


Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) Takes Credit for $100 Million Hospital Earmark.  The Associated Press reports: “A $100 million item for construction of a university hospital was inserted in the Senate health care bill at the request of Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., who faces a difficult re-election campaign, his office said Sunday night.”


Sen. Roland Burris (D-IL) Inserts Provision for ACORN Funding.  The Weekly Standard reports:  “Senator Roland Burris is claiming credit for a provision in Harry Reid's ‘manager's amendment,’ unveiled Saturday morning, that could funnel money to ACORN through the health care bill.”


Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) Secures $600 Million Medicaid Kickback. The Associated Press reports:   “Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., negotiated $600 million in additional Medicaid benefits for his state over 10 years. He said Vermont is due the additional benefits because the state already has acted to expand Medicaid eligibility to the levels now contemplated by the federal government. Vermont would be unfairly penalized if other states are now being helped with that expansion, he said.”


Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) Scores $10 Billion for Community Health Centers.  The Associated Press reports: “Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who was angered after a new government-run health plan was dropped from the legislation to win over moderates like Nelson and Landrieu, held out on backing the bill until Reid, D-Nev., agreed to a $10 billion increase in support for community health centers.”


Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) Negotiates Special Deal for Florida Medicare Advantage Recipients.  The Associated Press reports: “Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., pushed a provision he said will let about 800,000 Florida seniors enrolled in private Medicare Advantage plans keep their extra benefits.  It also helps seniors in a handful of other states. Elsewhere, Medicare Advantage patients risk losing benefits because the private plans are a major target of planned cuts to Medicare.”


Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) Scores Extra Medicare Benefits for Montana Residents.  The Associated Press reports: “Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., chairman of the Finance Committee and a key architect of the legislation, put in a provision to help the 2,900 residents of Libby, Mont., many of whom have asbestos-related illnesses from a now-defunct mineral mine. Under Baucus' provision, which never mentions Libby by name, sickened residents could sign up for Medicare benefits.”


Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) Wins More Medicare Funding for Iowa Hospitals.  The Wall Street Journal reports: “One change won by Sen. Tom Harkin (D., Iowa) would increase Medicare payments to medium-size hospitals, including eight in his state.  Mr. Harkin said such ‘tweener’ hospitals are short-changed by the current system.”


Sens. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) & Kent Conrad (D-ND) Win Higher Medicare Payments for Rural Hospitals .  The Washington Post reports: “The Senate health-care bill has been full of goodies handed out to buy/earn the vote of various senators. … Byron Dorgan and Kent Conrad’s higher Medicare payments to hospitals and doctors in the ‘frontier counties’ of Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming.”

Republicans are fighting back against this latest insult to American taxpayers by exposing these sweetheart deals and offering better solutions.  Republicans have proposed the only health care bill that would lower premiums by up to 10 percent, cut the deficit, and consistently reduce federal spending on health care.