Sen. Nelson, D-Neb., got a win and a loss out of the White House health care proposal Monday.
He lost what many called the “Cornhusker Kickback,” a controversial provision that would have given his state $100 million in Medicaid funding fully paid for by the federal government, which was not included in the administration’s plan unveiled Monday morning. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid used the deal to help secure the 60th vote he needed from Sen. Nelson, a moderate, to pass the bill.
The deal immediately drew fire from both sides of the aisle with critics saying it was something offered only to his state and part of the problem with closed-door negotiations. Sen. Nelson eventually came out and somewhat backtracked after initially defending the deal, and then asked for the provision to be applied to all 50 states or that it be cut.
Monday the administration outlined a Medicaid expansion for all 50 states, not just Nebraska, and it extends that the federal government pays to help grow the program, without states having to contribute any portion for nearly a decade. The original kickback deal would have exempted Nebraska from ever having to pay the state’s portion or its share of the Medicaid expansion.
When asked about the widely characterized “backroom deals” being made, President Obama said recently in part it’s part of the legislative process, “Look, I would have loved nothing better than to come up with some very elegant, you know - academically approved approach to health care and didn't have any kinds of legislative fingerprints on it,” he told Katie Couric in an interview with CBS News on Feb. 4.
“They did not help, they frustrate me. But you know, this is a democracy,” he added.
The White House’s online proposal doesn’t specifically address another so-called sweetheart deal dubbed the “Louisiana Purchase” that gave millions of dollars to the state of Louisiana. This kickback was believed to have helped get the vote of Sen. Landrieu, D-La.
In Monday’s White House Press Briefing, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs clarified how the White House came to their conclusion on what to include. Gibbs said, On the former one, this is an FMAP [Federal Medical Assistance Percentages] proposal that governs any state with -- which the president has declared a major disaster.”
“So it's a -- it's not a carve-out for. In fact, it covers -- potentially covers any state with which, as I said a minute ago, the president has declared -- how that health care relates to a major disaster,” he said.
As for Sen. Nelson’s win Monday, the White House did agree with him on abortion language. The administration proposed keeping the wording from the Senate plan and not go with the language Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich. was pushing. The president has suggested Rep. Stupak’s offer is too restrictive.
Obama recently described what he looking for in the language regarding abortion, “And we're not looking to change what is the principle that has been in place for a very long time, which is federal dollars are not used to subsidize abortions," he told ABC's Jake Tapper. "And I want to make sure that the provision that emerges meets that test -- that we are not in some way sneaking in funding for abortions, but, on the other hand, that we're not restricting women's insurance choices…."
The Stupak provision in the House, called The Stupak-Pitts amendment, is also co-sponsored with Rep. Joe Pitts, R-Pa. and would prevent coverage for abortions in the so-called public option.
Sen. Nelson recently told FOX New’s Senior Senate Producer Trish Turner, "If (the Senate bill) doesn't make it clear that it does not fund abortion with government money, you can be sure I will vote against the bill."
FOX News’ Eve Zibel & Trish Turner contributed to this report.