AP Photo/Harry Hamburg
Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2009 | 2 a.m.
Just as he made no apology for securing a special deal for Nevada three months ago, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made none Monday for enticing reluctant Democratic senators to support health care legislation with high-end sweeteners.
The only difference is that this time, it’s other states, not Nevada, getting the special deals.
To secure the vote of Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Reid gave the state permanent, 100 percent federal funding for a Medicaid expansion valued at $100 million. Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana got a separate $100 million Medicaid deal.
Vermont and Massachusetts also got Medicaid enhancements, and several other states would benefit from other provisions tucked into the bill — including a $100 million competitive grant for a hospital that Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut would like to nab for his state.
“You’ll find a number of states are treated differently than other states,” Reid said. “That’s what legislation is all about. It’s compromise.”
But Reid’s Republican opponents in Washington and Nevada complain the majority leader has not done enough for his home state.
“As usual, Harry plays Santa Claus for other states, but he’s the Grinch Who Stole Health Care for his own constituents in Nevada,” said Danny Tarkanian, a Las Vegas businessman and former college basketball star who is among Republicans challenging Reid in the 2010 election.
“Harry Reid’s bill, which is a tax-hiking big government boondoggle, is a perfect example of why we should permanently ban pork.”
Nevada’s Republican Gov. Jim Gibbons also complained that Reid is doing more to help other states than his own. “Maybe he should move to Nebraska where he can do less harm to Nevada,” the governor said.
It is an incongruous argument from Reid’s detractors, who criticize him for loading up bills with extra spending, then complain he is not bringing home more pork for Nevada.
Nevada will also receive 100 percent Medicaid funding for the first three years of the proposed expansion of health care services for low-income children and families in the state-run program. But after that, under the health care bill, the state will have to contribute toward the program to receive the federal match.
Reid’s office has said that if Nevada needs full 100 percent funding beyond the first three years, Reid can work to secure it.