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The Demcare bribe list

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By Michelle Malkin  •  November 20, 2009 11:17 AM

Scroll for updates…Landrieu boasts that her payoff was $300 million, not $100 million…

The Most Transparent Administration Ever won’t keep this list.

The Most Ethical Congress ever won’t keep it either.

So we’ll do the list ourselves and shine the light on the payoffs and last-minute backroom deals being made as Demcare heads for the first test vote tomorrow. (On a procedural note, Hill folks note that “Senate Republicans started floor debate today at 11:00 a.m. and will continue until 11:00 p.m. to discuss the $2.5 trillion, 2,074-page health care bill drafted in Senator Harry Reid’s office” ahead of the Saturday cloture vote. C-SPAN’s covering.)

Here are the top five Demcare bribes. Keep an eye out on bribes/offers for Democrat Sens. Ben Nelson of Nebraska; Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas; and Evan Bayh of Indiana. Leave comments or e-mail any new info to add to the list.

Here we go:

1) MARY LANDRIEU AND LOUISIANA: $100 million via Jonathan Karl:

On page 432 of the Reid bill, there is a section increasing federal Medicaid subsidies for “certain states recovering from a major disaster.”

The section spends two pages defining which “states” would qualify, saying, among other things, that it would be states that “during the preceding 7 fiscal years” have been declared a “major disaster area.”

I am told the section applies to exactly one state: Louisiana, the home of moderate Democrat Mary Landrieu, who has been playing hard to get on the health care bill.

In other words, the bill spends two pages describing would could be written with a single world: Louisiana. (This may also help explain why the bill is long.)

Senator Harry Reid, who drafted the bill, cannot pass it without the support of Louisiana’s Mary Landrieu.

How much does it cost? According to the Congressional Budget Office: $100 million.

2) CALIFORNIA: $300 million, via LA Times:

Contained in the nearly 2,000-page House healthcare bill is a little-noticed provision — worth $300 million to California — that would increase federal Medicare payments to doctors in a wide swath of the state in response to complaints that low reimbursement rates have kept them from taking new patients.

Rep. Sam Farr (D-Carmel) was able to include a reimbursement calculation fix in the overhaul legislation. It was a testament to California’s political muscle in the House, where its delegation is the largest of any state and includes Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D- San Francisco) and five committee chairs.

3) AARP

a) Via Philip Klein: $18 million in stimulus money

b) The Medigap royalty/kickback scheme

4) THE ABORTION LOBBY, via LifeNews:

Two leading pro-life organizations that have analyzed the new 2,000-page government-run health care bill released by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid late yesterday say the legislation contains massive abortion funding and a fake amendment that does not truly ban it.

The Senate health care bill does not contain the Stupak amendment the House approved that stops abortion funding under the public option and affordability credits.

Instead, the measure contains a slightly-reworded version of the much-maligned Capps amendment, which a House committee approved on a partisan vote and which pro-life groups say is an accounting scheme to hide government-funded abortions.

“Reid has rejected the bipartisan Stupak-Pitts Amendment and has substituted completely unacceptable language that would result in coverage of abortion on demand in two big new federal government programs,” National Right to Life legislative director Douglas Johnson assured LifeNews.com late Wednesday.

“Reid seeks to cover elective abortions in two big new federal health programs, but tries to conceal that unpopular reality with layers of contrived definitions and hollow bookkeeping requirements,” he continued.

Rep. Lois Capps, whose amendment was deleted when the House adopted the Stupak language, has applauded Reid’s language.

“It appears that their approach closely mirrors my language which was originally included in the House bill,” she said in a statement.

Johnson notes that Reid’s bill establishes the public option and authorizes (on page 118) the Secretary of Health and Human Services to require coverage of any and all abortions throughout the public option program.

“This would be federal government funding of abortion, no matter how hard they try to disguise it,” he says.

He also says the bill creates the affordability credits — new tax-supported subsidies to purchase private health plans — and that these government-funded credits can be used to purchase health insurance plans that directly pay for abortions.

Attorney Mary Harned of Americans United for Life, has also examined the abortion sections of Reid’s new measure, which she says “provides for an unprecedented expansion of federally-funded abortion. ”

“The bill includes pro-abortion language and mirrors the false compromise Capps Amendment from the House debate — it allows the public option to include abortion coverage and provides federal subsidies for private plans which cover abortion,” she said.

5) BIG LABOR

Via Houston Chronicle, Goodies for labor tucked away in health bill:

While higher-profile aspects of health care reform drew attention, pro-union legislators slipped a variety of big benefits for labor into the proposed legislation. Quietly tucked among the proposals’ thousands of pages, these provisions have avoided much scrutiny.

One provision epitomizes the nature of this ploy. According to research firms, unions are woefully short of funds to pay their retirees’ anticipated insurance claims. Thus, under the House resolution, union leaders who have mismanaged these plans for their members could receive up to $10 billion in taxpayer-funded bailout money, innocuously referred to as a “reinsurance program.”

Unfortunately, this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

Under the proposed public option, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius would wield tremendous discretionary authority to regulate participating health care workers. She and various federal panels, where the unions would have guaranteed seats, would take the lead in recommending health care policy. Thus, labor would have considerable influence over decisions affecting most doctors, nurses and patients.

The House resolution establishes a scenario that would effectively exclude non-union employers from eligibility to work on program-funded contracts. It also requires participating health care providers to pay wages and benefits that have been collectively bargained or that union-friendly appointees determine are competitive. This is plainly a move toward coerced unionization. With guaranteed seats at the table, unions are poised to control many newly formed oversight posts and/or committees, formed in connection with new employer mandates and cooperative health care associations.

Yet another provision would establish lucrative state training partnerships that contain little or no opportunities for non-union employee organizations. Provisions in Senate proposals would exempt union-negotiated health care plans from taxes on “Cadillac” health plans.

These features all encourage more unionization. The unions know that under Canada’s nationalized system, union membership among all health care workers is 61 percent, compared to just 11 percent in the U.S.

Increasing membership similarly in this country would swell labor’s coffers with as much as another $2 billion in dues.

In fact, Senate proposals include language that could force home health workers into unions. Disgraced former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and former California Gov. Gray Davis used this approach to repay political debts to the SEIU in their states. They reclassified state-reimbursed home health contractors as state employees, thus forcing them to pay union dues. Again and again, it is apparent that these union-friendly proposals have nothing do with improving our health care system.

From Mark Mix:

In the heated debates on health-care reform, not enough attention is being paid to the huge financial windfalls ObamaCare will dole out to unions—or to the provisions in the various bills in Congress that will help bring about the forced unionization of the health-care industry.

Tucked away in thousands of pages of complex new rules, regulations and mandates are special privileges and giveaways that could have devastating consequences for the health-care sector and the American economy at large.

The Senate version opens the door to implement forced unionization schemes pursued by former Govs. Rod Blagojevich of Illinois in 2005 and Gray Davis of California in 1999. Both men repaid tremendous political debts to Andy Stern and his Service Employees International Union (SEIU) by reclassifying state-reimbursed in-home health-care (and child-care) contractors as state employees—and forcing them to pay union dues.

Following this playbook, the Senate bill creates a “personal care attendants workforce advisory panel” that will likely impose union affiliation to qualify for a newly created “community living assistance services and support (class)” reimbursement plan.

The current House version of ObamaCare (H.R. 3200) goes much further. Section 225(A) grants Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius tremendous discretionary authority to regulate health-care workers “under the public health insurance option.” Monopoly bargaining and compulsory union dues may quickly become a required standard resulting in potentially hundreds of thousands of doctors and nurses across the country being forced into unions.

Ms. Sebelius will be taking her marching orders from the numerous union officials who are guaranteed seats on the various federal panels (such as the personal care panel mentioned above) charged with recommending health-care policies. Big Labor will play a central role in directing federal health-care policy affecting hundreds of thousands of doctors, surgeons and nurses.

***

Update: More sweeteners…

With all 40 Republicans in lockstep opposition, all 60 members of the Democratic caucus had to vote yes — and that gave each one an opportunity to extract concessions from Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) won a promise from Reid to support his plan to expand eligibility for health insurance. Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) got Reid to jettison a provision stripping health insurers of their antitrust exemption. Landrieu got the concessions for her money. And Lincoln won an extended, 72-hour period to study legislation.

And the big shakedown is yet to occur: That will happen when Reid comes back to his caucus in a few weeks to round up 60 votes for the final passage of the health bill.

Update: Wheeling & dealing: Snowe pow-wows with Obama; Landrieu, Schumer, Daschle behind the scenes.

Update: Cash for Cloture!

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