Senators Want Special Deals in Bill

While the Senate is almost certain to remove the controversial Nebraska deal known as the “Cornhusker Kickback” in a final health-care bill, President Obama's efforts to cut out other state-specific arrangements are drawing resistance from lawmakers. Such deals include a provision exempting Florida from some Medicare cuts, an issue Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) raised at the bipartisan health summit, as well as extra Medicaid cash for Massachusetts and Vermont. "We've made it clear to the Senate that the president's position in the final legislation should not contain provisions that favor a single state or a single district differently than others," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said this week. But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's spokesperson responded: "We're going to do what we have to do to get a bill out of the House and Senate." He said of the White House's wish: "We'll certainly keep it in mind as we pull together a final bill." Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT) also defended the extra money for his state on the basis that Vermont already provides generous benefits to its residents before reform and shouldn't be "penalized for doing the right thing." And Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) is pushing back against efforts to cut out a provision granting Medicare benefits to residents of a single town in his state that's suffered from mining-related health problems.