Sen. Ben Nelson said Tuesday the controversial Medicaid funding concession granted to Nebraska opens the way to end a new unfunded federal mandate for all states.
"It's not a special deal for Nebraska," he said in a Senate floor speech. "It is in fact an opportunity to get rid of an unfunded federal mandate for all the states."
During his speech, the Democratic senator expressed disappointment in Republican Sen. Mike Johanns for his role in attacks aimed at the Nebraska provision.
"I'm prepared to fight for the state of Nebraska," Nelson said, "and I hope my colleague is as well."
Nelson also expressed disappointment that Johanns would tolerate Republican labeling of the Medicaid concession as the "Omaha Stakes Fix," parodying the name of Omaha Steaks.
Under the provision added to the health care reform bill during negotiations with Nelson, federal dollars would be used to pay the full cost of proposed Medicaid expansion in Nebraska in lieu of the usual federal-state funding match.
Since that provision wouldn't be operative until 2017, Nelson said, other states will have "an opportunity to come back in and get this bill changed" to acquire similar relief.
"What we've done is we've drawn a line in the sand and said (an unfunded federal mandate expanding Medicaid) is unacceptable for all states as well," Nelson said.
Republican critics have chosen to "mislead, distort and, unfortunately, confuse the American public all the more and to use the state of Nebraska and the name of a good company for political, partisan purposes," Nelson said.