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Lincoln Criticizes Nelson’s Health Care Deal

Sen. Blanche Lincoln (Ark.) spent Tuesday jabbing fellow centrist Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson (Neb.), saying a Medicaid deal he secured for his home state should be dropped from the final health care reform bill.

According to, Lincoln criticized Nelson for “horse trading,— which she said has no place in policy-heavy legislation such as the $871 billion health care package approved by the Senate on Christmas Eve.

Nebraska was not alone in receiving special treatment, but Nelson’s deal to have the federal government cover his state’s portion of a proposed Medicaid coverage expansion has received particular attention.

“The people of Arkansas did not send me to Washington to be a horse trader. They sent me there to work hard to get good policy,— said Lincoln, who was also one of the final Democratic holdouts on the bill.

“In this circumstance, it’s obviously Medicaid dollars, which usually come in a formula-based system down to states. It’s very complicated, it’s very difficult and it’s something that I think everyone needs to adhere to.

“We’ll see what happens, whether it comes out or not. I think it’s appropriate that it should.—

The report said Lincoln made those comments to reporters, and again while speaking in Little Rock to a meeting of the Kiwanis Club.

Like Nelson, Lincoln has come under fire at home for supporting the health care reform bill. Lincoln is up for re-election this year, and she faces the prospect of a tough campaign. Nelson is not up for re-election until 2012.

Although Nelson’s deal has received the most public scrutiny, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) also received additional Medicaid funding for her state. Additionally, Democratic Senators from Indiana and Minnesota were successful in lowering the rate of a proposed tax on medical device companies.

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