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Nearly $1 Billion in Last-Minute Deals Conveniently Benefit Wavering Democrats

March 20, 2010

Apparently still short on votes for their health care overhaul, Democrat Congressional leaders have loaded up their latest health bill with hundreds of millions of dollars in NEW special deals to wavering Democrat members.

Last minute changes to their health package include a $400 million slush fund, found in Section 1109 of the Democrats’ amended reconciliation bill, to provide higher Medicare payment rates to certain hospitals. 

But the Democrats didn’t stop there.  Section 1108 of the same bill provides a $400 million boost to Medicare reimbursements to physicians who practice in certain areas.  The Democrats may be surprised to learn this provision will cause seniors’ Part B premiums to increase by $100 million.  Additionally, seniors living in the affected areas will be responsible for paying a 20% copayment on the higher reimbursements rates.

These special deals were created to shore up support for the Democrats’ health bill, by responding to Democrat demands that Medicare geographic payment differences be dealt with if Speaker Pelosi wanted their vote.  For example:

  • Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) threatened to withhold his vote if he didn’t get this special deal: “If they need my vote, they can address it….” he said.  “We can shovel money into Louisiana, but our fix is gone.”  DeFazio concluded, “I will oppose the bill unless they fix geographic disparity.”  On Saturday, it was revealed that Rep. DeFazio got his deal, which he said also benefits Reps. Bruce Braley (D-IA) and Ron Kind (D-WI) and which supporters claimed will bring another 3 to 10 Democrats into the “yes” column.
  • Rep. Braley (D-IA) was so happy about the inclusion of his special deal that he issued a press release touting his role in securing the reported $800 million kickback, claiming the secret deal also benefits Reps. David Loebsack (D-IA) and Leonard Boswell (D-IA). 

When will the Democrats’ game of “Let’s Make a Deal” end?  Stay tuned…