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Following up: Ben Nelson and subsidies

December 24th, 2009, 01:12 am admin Leave a comment Go to comments

Last week, I wrote that in exchange for his cloture vote, Ben Nelson was demanding cuts in the subsidies to provide coverage for the uninsured. I said (emphasis added):

The deals are still being struck, and Ben Nelson is insisting that the final bill’s subsidies be “scaled back.” If he is successful, shouldn’t that be taken into account in assessing the bill’s strength? Similarly, if Nelson is unsuccessful, won’t it be a good sign that the subsidies may not be as politically vulnerable as I have feared?

The good news is that not only was Ben Nelson unsuccessful in weakening the subsidies, the legislation was actually strengthened with the addition of Bernie Sanders’ amendment funding Community Health Centers that would provide access to primary care for 25 million Americans.

There’s still going to be plenty of things to fix after this bill passes — chief among them keeping costs in line — but not only rebuffing Nelson’s demand but expanding access to primary care were both important moves in a positive direction. So here’s a tip of the cap to Senate Democratic leadership and the White House who took the lead role in negotiating with Nelson. They deserve credit for coming up with a deal that preserves — indeed expands — assistance to the uninsured.

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