The healthcare bill was held hostage by a cabal of bandit-senators who refused to vote for it unless they got cash money. Here's what a vote goes for these days.
The New York Times has a nauseating rundown of the various payoffs Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid larded the bill with at the last possible moment in order to secure errant votes—most notably that of Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), who claimed to be holding out to make sure aborted babies got killed exclusively with private money, but really only wanted Medicare to cut Nebraska an oversized novelty check.
- Nebraska gets permanent federal aid for its increased Medicaid costs under the bill, valued at $100 million over the next decade. Every other state gets three years of increased aid.
- The residents of Libby, Mont., will get special access to Medicare to cover the effects of asbestos contamination from a vermiculite mine that operated there until 1990, thanks to Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.). The EPA has already devoted $6 million to the town's 2,600 residents.
- If you are a doctor or hospital owner in a state where 50% or more of the counties are "frontier counties"—which in ashamed-legislators-who-are-hoping-no-one-figures-out-their-secret-robbery-code-speak means Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming—you will get more money from Medicare than lame non-frontier states, just because. Wyoming and Utah each have two Republican senators, who are voting against the bill but still get free money for their constituents. Also, no one lives in any of those states, but they get just as many senators as the states where people actually do live, which is what democracy is all about.
- A $100 million bonus is going to an unidentified mystery medical school that's being identified as either Commonwealth Medical College in Pennsylvania or the University of Connecticut, depending on whom you ask.
- The bill limits the ability of doctors who own hospitals from referring their Medicare patients to those hospitals for expensive treatments, which will probably save money. Except there are some special hospitals, like Bellevue Medical Center in—you guessed it—Nebraska, that will still be able do that sort of thing.
- Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut, and Michigan are also getting various complex and generous special deals in the bill. If you happen to live in a state represented by a senator who just plain old supports universal health care on so-called "principle," you'll probably end up paying higher taxes to shoulder the additional state burdens. But at least you won't feel as filthy as those money-grubbing Nebraskans, right?