Reid Defends Health Bill Santa Bag

Dec 21, 2009 4:14pm

ABC News' Z. Byron Wolf reports: If your state didn’t get a Christmas present in the health care bill Senate Democrats are about to pass, then you must not have a very good senator, according to Majority Leader Harry Reid. Reid wanted to talk at today’s press conference about the new AMA endorsement of their bill and the key breaking of Republicans filibuster last night. But all the questions were on the Christmas presents Santa Reid put in the health bill to bring wavering liberal and conservatives on board. Reid defended the provisions, including more than a billion in special Medicaid funding for Nebraska, Massachusetts and Vermont and Louisiana, $100 million aimed at a Connecticut hospital, special help for a Montana town dealing with asbestos problems and an exemption from a new tax for specific non-profit insurance companies in Nebraska and Michigan. “That’s what legislation is all about,” said Reid at the press conference. “It’s the art of compromise.” “Nevada has different needs than New Hampshire…” and he went on to list of how other states are different than each other. Reid pointed out there are 100 senators and they all, he guessed, must have something important to them in the bill. If they don’t, he said, they must not be very good senators. “If they don’t have something in important to them, it doesn’t speak very well for them,” he said. Dodd was asked more specifically about Connecticut’s gift – an opaquely worded authorization for $100 million to help expansion of a hospital with very specific criteria. Dodd has admitted he put the provision in the bill to benefit a hospital affiliated with UCONN. But he said the money will be awarded competitively by the Secretary of Health and Human Services among the more than dozen hospitals nationwide that could qualify. “This is competitive. It’s not just about my state,” he said. Despite the allegations of a corrupt political process, Reid predicted that the Democrats’ health bills will become more popular as they are reconciled and approach the President’s desk.

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