So, Ben Nelson Finally Caves On Health Care Reform . . .

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on December 19, 2009

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But not without a price:

Sen. Ben Nelson (Neb.), the final Democratic holdout on health care, announced to his caucus Saturday morning that he would support the Senate reform bill, clearing the way for final passage by Christmas.

“We’re there,” said Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), as he headed into a special meeting to outline the deal.

Democratic leaders spent days trying to hammer out a deal with Nelson, and worked late Friday night with him on abortion coverage language that had proved the major stumbling block. Nelson also secured other favors for his home state.

Under the new abortion provisions, states can opt out of allowing plans to cover abortion in insurance exchanges the bill would set up to serve individuals who don’t have employer coverage. Plus, enrollees in plans that do cover abortion procedures would pay for the coverage with separate checks – one for abortion, one for rest of health-care services.

Nelson secured full federal funding for his state to expand Medicaid coverage to all individuals below 133 percent of the federal poverty level. Other states must pay a small portion of the additional cost. He won concessions for qualifying nonprofit insurers and for Medigap providers from a new insurance tax. He also was able to roll back cuts to health savings accounts.

“I know this is hard for some of my colleagues to accept and I appreciate their right to disagree,” Nelson told reporters at the Capitol, of the many changes made at his behest. “But I would not have voted for this bill without these provisions.”

With Nelson’s vote, and with that of Joe Lieberman–now that there is no vestige of a public option included in the Senate bill–Senate Democrats are now at 60, which means that they are able to pass the Reid bill this coming week.

Of course, the fun part comes with the conference committee meetings, in which differences between the House and Senate versions of health care reform have to get hashed out. If any effort is made to put something resembling the public option back in the conference committee report, Senate Democrats will once again lose Lieberman’s vote, as well as Nelson’s. But if anything resembling the public option is kept out, then House liberals may well revolt.

I don’t know if there is enough popcorn in the world to deal with what’s coming down the pipeline.

  • drfredc

    As I understand it, conference bills only need 50% from the Senate to pass. Unless 10 Dems turn into holdouts, most anything coming out of conference will pass the Senate, especially when porked up. So adding the public option back it is highly likely — there's aren't 10 Liebermans and Nelsons in the Dem Senate to stop it. Once the Dem's get 60 to pass onto conference, the preliminaries necessary to get there are mostly just a reasonably well orchestrated charade of purposeful distractions. In the final vote, more likely than not, there will be a carefully selected 9 Dem Nos, mostly from 2010 Senators. Look for the No's to get their pork…

    The House seems likely to be the final battleground between abortion funding and public options. IMHO, the Senate's State opt out for abortion seems to still leave taxpayers in all States funding abortions in States that don't opt out. This 'detail' won't be overlooked by the House Stupakers. The public option will be added back in by conference, perhaps mellowing it out a bit to carefully allow just enough votes for it to pass the House without crippling 2010 Dem re-elections any more than necessary.

    Obama will sign just about anything that shows up at his desk… Then the battle will be for subsequent Congresses (and perhaps courts) to undo the MESS (Mandated Employer Subsidized Socialism) WITH and without Obama still in office. It's hard to predict 2012, but if trends continue, Obama's reelection may be a tough sell if the opposition stays on message. However, given the GOP as a whole can barely message it's way out of a wet paper bag, keeping an aggressive anti Obamacare sort of unified message going thru 2012 could be tough…..

    Bottomline, bend over and prepare to be assimiliated…

  • drfredc

    As I understand it, conference bills only need 50% from the Senate to pass. Unless 10 Dems turn into holdouts, most anything coming out of conference will pass the Senate, especially when porked up. So adding the public option back it is highly likely — there's aren't 10 Liebermans and Nelsons in the Dem Senate to stop it. Once the Dem's get 60 to pass onto conference, the preliminaries necessary to get there are mostly just a reasonably well orchestrated charade of purposeful distractions. In the final vote, more likely than not, there will be a carefully selected 9 Dem Nos, mostly from 2010 Senators. Look for the No's to get their pork…

    The House seems likely to be the final battleground between abortion funding and public options. IMHO, the Senate's State opt out for abortion seems to still leave taxpayers in all States funding abortions in States that don't opt out. This 'detail' won't be overlooked by the House Stupakers. The public option will be added back in by conference, perhaps mellowing it out a bit to carefully allow just enough votes for it to pass the House without crippling 2010 Dem re-elections any more than necessary.

    Obama will sign just about anything that shows up at his desk… Then the battle will be for subsequent Congresses (and perhaps courts) to undo the MESS (Mandated Employer Subsidized Socialism) WITH and without Obama still in office. It's hard to predict 2012, but if trends continue, Obama's reelection may be a tough sell if the opposition stays on message. However, given the GOP as a whole can barely message it's way out of a wet paper bag, keeping an aggressive anti Obamacare sort of unified message going thru 2012 could be tough…..

    Bottomline, bend over and prepare to be assimiliated…

  • drfredc

    As I understand it, conference bills only need 50% from the Senate to pass. Unless 10 Dems turn into holdouts, most anything coming out of conference will pass the Senate, especially when porked up. So adding the public option back it is highly likely — there's aren't 10 Liebermans and Nelsons in the Dem Senate to stop it. Once the Dem's get 60 to pass onto conference, the preliminaries necessary to get there are mostly just a reasonably well orchestrated charade of purposeful distractions. In the final vote, more likely than not, there will be a carefully selected 9 Dem Nos, mostly from 2010 Senators. Look for the No's to get their pork…

    The House seems likely to be the final battleground between abortion funding and public options. IMHO, the Senate's State opt out for abortion seems to still leave taxpayers in all States funding abortions in States that don't opt out. This 'detail' won't be overlooked by the House Stupakers. The public option will be added back in by conference, perhaps mellowing it out a bit to carefully allow just enough votes for it to pass the House without crippling 2010 Dem re-elections any more than necessary.

    Obama will sign just about anything that shows up at his desk… Then the battle will be for subsequent Congresses (and perhaps courts) to undo the MESS (Mandated Employer Subsidized Socialism) WITH and without Obama still in office. It's hard to predict 2012, but if trends continue, Obama's reelection may be a tough sell if the opposition stays on message. However, given the GOP as a whole can barely message it's way out of a wet paper bag, keeping an aggressive anti Obamacare sort of unified message going thru 2012 could be tough…..

    Bottomline, bend over and prepare to be assimiliated…

  • drfredc

    As I understand it, conference bills only need 50% from the Senate to pass. Unless 10 Dems turn into holdouts, most anything coming out of conference will pass the Senate, especially when porked up. So adding the public option back it is highly likely — there's aren't 10 Liebermans and Nelsons in the Dem Senate to stop it. Once the Dem's get 60 to pass onto conference, the preliminaries necessary to get there are mostly just a reasonably well orchestrated charade of purposeful distractions. In the final vote, more likely than not, there will be a carefully selected 9 Dem Nos, mostly from 2010 Senators. Look for the No's to get their pork…

    The House seems likely to be the final battleground between abortion funding and public options. IMHO, the Senate's State opt out for abortion seems to still leave taxpayers in all States funding abortions in States that don't opt out. This 'detail' won't be overlooked by the House Stupakers. The public option will be added back in by conference, perhaps mellowing it out a bit to carefully allow just enough votes for it to pass the House without crippling 2010 Dem re-elections any more than necessary.

    Obama will sign just about anything that shows up at his desk… Then the battle will be for subsequent Congresses (and perhaps courts) to undo the MESS (Mandated Employer Subsidized Socialism) WITH and without Obama still in office. It's hard to predict 2012, but if trends continue, Obama's reelection may be a tough sell if the opposition stays on message. However, given the GOP as a whole can barely message it's way out of a wet paper bag, keeping an aggressive anti Obamacare sort of unified message going thru 2012 could be tough…..

    Bottomline, bend over and prepare to be assimiliated…

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