Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson, after securing a sweetheart deal for his state as part of the health insurance reform bill, said Tuesday that three other senators have told him they want to bargain for the same kind of special treatment.
“Three senators came up to me just now on the (Senate) floor, and said, ‘Now we understand what you did. We’ll be seeking this funding too’,” Nelson said.
But the Democratic senator, who has faced a heap of criticism for appearing to trade his vote on health care for millions in federal Medicaid money, said he’s considering asking that the Nebraska deal be stripped from the bill.
Though he defended the exemption as a “fair deal,” he said he never asked for the full federal funding that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid ended up granting his state. Nelson said he instead asked that states be allowed to refuse an expansion of Medicaid.
“This is the way Senate leadership chose to handle it. I never asked for 100 percent funding,” he said.
Nelson has maintained that the only reason he even brought up Medicaid was that Nebraska Republican Gov. Dave Heineman put him up to it.
That last part might be the biggest act of chutzpah from the Senator in this whole sordid affair…and may have just guaranteed that Governor Heineman will be running for Nelson’s seat in 2012.
After Nelson sent a letter to the governor offering to kill the Medicaid deal, Heineman acknowledged that he and other governors had “expressed concern” about the state burden for Medicaid patients. But he rejected any suggestion from Nelson that he asked for the kind of deal Reid struck.
“Under no circumstances did I have anything to do with Senator Nelson’s compromise,” the governor said in a written statement. “The responsibility for this special deal lies solely on the shoulders of Senator Ben Nelson.”
That’s quite a legacy Uncle Ben is carving out for himself. Geesh.
More from Leavenworth Street:
Make no mistake about it kids: Ben Nelson enjoyed every minute of being in the spotlight. Making trips to the White House; being cornered by the New York Times; being a talking head on Sunday morning; having all eyes on HIM for the past several weeks.
It was a blast.
He ate it up.
MORE: The term “Cornhusker Kickback” now registers 8,460 hits on Google.