Sen. Mary Landrieu’s state of Louisiana is still ailing years after Hurricane Katrina devastated its largest city. So Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid could be killing two birds with one stone by including in his health care bill $100 million in federal Medicaid aid for any states (aka, Louisiana) that have suffered a natural disaster in the last seven years. That’s much needed help for the poor in Louisiana, and also a sweetener for Landrieu, whose support for health care reform has never been terribly certain.
That appears to be a more justifiable offer from Reid than a separate concession to Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE), another health-care fence sitter. In a move that appears designed to win Nelson’s initial procedural votes, Reid decided not to include a measure ending anti-trust exemptions for the insurance industry.
Reid originally fought hard to lift the exemption, even testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the need to end insurance companies’ monopolistic practices. But his decision may be paying political dividends, as Nelson inches toward supporting a key health care test vote on Saturday.
The only remaining question: What’s in it for Arkansas?