by Max Brantley
Belatedly, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel says the special Medicaid funding provision for Nebraska in proposed Senate health legislation should be dropped. It's not illegal as some Republican attorney generals have argued; just wrong, he says.
I expect McDaniel to be equally vigorous in opposing any special funding Arkansas members of Congress are able to insert in broader legislation for their folks back home.
MCDANIEL NEWS RELEASE
Today, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) calling on them to remove the so-called “Nebraska Compromise” contained in the current Senate version of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, H.R. 3590.
McDaniel insists that the provision wrongfully benefits Nebraska at the expense of other states. Yet, after researching applicable law, he declined to sign onto a letter circulated by South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster, which threatens a lawsuit in federal court if the provision is not removed.
McDaniel states in his letter, “Although such threats make for good politics, I do not believe that the states would have a winning lawsuit based on what I know at this time. However, I strongly agree that the Nebraska Compromise should be removed in the Conference Committee, and I request your attention to this matter.”
A copy of the McDaniel letter is below.
January 11, 2010
The Honorable Harry Reid
522 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Speaker of the House of Representatives
235 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Majority Leader Reid and Madam Speaker:
I want to thank you for your hard work on the effort to reform America’s broken health insurance system. Small businesses, working families and all Americans who are uncertain about the rising costs of healthcare need common sense, fiscally responsible reform. I encourage you to continue to work through the controversial challenges of this issue to create a final product that serves America’s needs.
To that end, I am writing as the chief legal officer of the State of Arkansas with respect to the “Nebraska Compromise” contained in the Senate version of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, H.R. 3590. This provision would unfairly burden Arkansas and every other state, as we would be compelled to pay for the special status afforded to the Nebraska Medicaid program.
I have been contacted by a number of attorneys general who are preparing a letter to you on this matter. That letter will be signed by a number of Republican Attorneys General and to my knowledge, at least one Democrat, who all believe that the Nebraska Compromise is an illegal and unconstitutional exercise on the part of Congress. They threaten legal action in federal court if that provision is not removed in the Conference Committee.
After having done substantial legal research on the matter, I have declined to sign on to the above-referenced letter on behalf of Arkansas. Although such threats make for good politics, I do not believe that the states would have a winning lawsuit based on what I know at this time. However, I strongly agree that the Nebraska Compromise should be removed in the Conference Committee. I believe that, as Attorney General Terry Goddard of Arizona said recently, this provision “amounts to nothing more than a sweetheart deal for Nebraska only, is poor public policy and not in the best interest of . . . the nation.”
I request your attention to this matter and ask that the Nebraska Compromise be removed from H.R. 3590.
Arkansas Attorney General