It's b-a-c-k.

But only briefly.

When President Barack Obama signed health care reform legislation Tuesday, the nationally-maligned $100 million Medicaid amendment for Nebraska became law.

It will disappear for good once follow-up health care reconciliation legislation is approved by the Senate and signed into law.

The Nebraska provision was included in the bill that was passed by the Senate last December after negotiations with Sen. Ben Nelson, who provided the climactic 60th vote required to clear a Republican filibuster.

The House passed the Senate bill on Sunday along with a so-called reconciliation measure amending that legislation.

Nelson announced Monday he will vote against the reconciliation package, largely because it contains a new government college student loan reform plan he opposes.

His decision is unrelated to the Nebraska provision.

"Senator Nelson's preference from the beginning was to give states an option for dealing with an unfunded federal mandate in health reform," Nelson spokesman Jake Thompson said.

"The House reconciliation bill still has an unfunded mandate on the states, which he does not support," Thompson said.

But that's not the reason Nelson is opposing the bill, he said.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said he already has sufficient votes to enact the reconciliation bill, Thompson noted.

"If so, the Nebraska provision will be replaced with language providing additional federal funds for all states to expand Medicaid," he said.

And that'll end the Nebraska Medicaid amendment's brief curtain call.

Reach Don Walton at 473-7248 or at dwalton@journalstar.com.