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Coburn to Challenge Subsidies for Louisiana

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) is taking aim at a provision in the Senate’s health care reform bill that Republicans have dubbed “the Louisiana Purchase.—

Coburn’s office announced Wednesday afternoon that the Senator would seek to strike a provision sought by Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) that she says would provide her state with $300 million in additional Medicaid subsidies.

Republicans have argued that the provision was added to “buy— Landrieu’s Nov. 21 vote in favor of starting debate on the health care measure. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) needed, and got, all 60 Members of the Democratic Conference to vote to block a GOP filibuster of the bill, but Landrieu was one of the last to declare how she would vote after expressing concerns with the bill’s creation of a public health insurance option.

“Dr. Coburn believes it’s immoral for the Reid bill to cut Medicare benefits for seniors while financing special-interest, pork-barrel projects for vulnerable incumbents,— a statement from his office said.

Landrieu spokesman Aaron Saunders shot back that Landrieu continues to support the provision, which has been supported by the entire Louisiana Congressional delegation and “explicitly and repeatedly requested— by Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal.

“This is another in a long line of Sen. Coburn’s political stunts. He has made a habit of grandstanding against Louisiana without any knowledge of the challenges faced by our residents as they struggle to recover from the worst natural disaster to ever hit America,— said Saunders in an e-mail. “Apparently, Sen. Coburn supports an inequitable federal formula that would leave the poorest Louisianians without health care. This population hardly constitutes a ‘special interest.’—

Saunders also pointed out that Landrieu’s re-election last year with 52 percent of the vote hardly makes her a “vulnerable incumbent— as Coburn’s office suggests.

The provision Coburn seeks to eliminate would increase Medicaid subsidies to states that have been declared a major disaster area in the past seven years. The only state that appears to qualify is Louisiana.

Jessica Brady contributed to this report.

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