Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell fired off a letter to Attorney General Richard Blumenthal Wednesday asking him to sue the federal government if Congress approves multimillion-dollar tax breaks for Nebraska as part of the healthcare bill winding its way through Congress.
A provision written into the massive bill will allow the federal government to pick up 100 percent of the cost of Medicaid expansion in Nebraska to court U.S. Senator Ben Nelson’s vote.
“The inequity of this provision is astonishing,“ Rell wrote in her letter to Blumenthal. “The doling out of favors for senators is appalling. The cost of this federal health care bill is beyond comprehension because of all the special provisions included to garner the 60 votes for passage.”
Blumenthal, a Democrat, seemed to take the governor’s request in stride.
“We will immediately review the Governor’s request, but it is clearly premature at present because there is no Senate-approved bill, let alone a final measure negotiated and voted favorably by both houses of congress,” Blumenthal said in a emailed statement. “A lawsuit to stop or modify a pending bill is legally impossible.”
To the contrary, it is not ‘premature’, Rell’s office said in response to Blumenthal. “The Governor’s letter clearly states that “if this bill passes into law in its present form, I am asking you to immediately pursue legal action on behalf of the State of Connecticut to ensure that Connecticut also receives the 100% reimbursement of costs for this underfunded federal mandate.”
Rell’s letter seems to be part of a national movement of Republican Attorney General’s across the country, who expressed their outrage Wednesday at the “sweetheart deals“ in the Senate Democrats‘ healthcare bill. The ball got rolling with a request from Republicans Senators Lindsey Graham and Jim DeMint, who asked South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster to look into the constitutionality of Democrats’ decision to cover all of Nebraska’s future Medicaid recipients.
“While everyone has received something, Nebraska’s “gift” is particularly galling,” Rell wrote in her letter. “In this time of extraordinary fiscal challenge, when states are facing record budget deficits and are seeing HUSKY and Medicaid case loads growing, all could use 100 percent reimbursement.”
Rell’s anger at the provision is also related to the current budget deficit.
Currently the state of Connecticut’s Medicaid account is running a $92.1 million deficit, according to state Comptroller Nancy Wyman.
“In the event that the terms of the Nebraska agreement applied to Connecticut, we have the potential to receive up to $262 million annually in additional federal reimbursement,” Rell said.