KHN Morning Briefing

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Landrieu Defends ‘Louisiana Purchase’ In Senate Remarks

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., won a $300-million Medicaid bonus for her state during health overhaul negotiations, spawning a wave of criticism that Democratic leaders needed to make the so-called "Louisiana purchase" to secure her support for their reform bill. On Thursday, she defended the action, saying during a Senate floor speech, "I make no apologies for leading this effort. I do not back up an inch," The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune reports. She challenged Republican senators to confront her on the spot Thursday or "keep their mouths shut" (Tilove, 2/4).

The remarks came after conservative talk show hosts Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh called Landrieu a "prostitute" for cutting the deal, the Associated Press/Washington Post reports. She maintains that her vote for the health overhaul was not connected to the $300-million boost. The state's Republican governor, Bobby Jindal, supported Landrieu's efforts to obtain the Medicaid funding, but opposed the bill and dodged questions about the propriety of Landrieu's getting the money included in the Senate overhaul bill, saying "'I'm not a member of Congress. I'm not going to tell them what bills to draft and what bills to amend'"  (Werner, 2/5).

Landrieu pointed out Jindal's involvement during her Thursday floor remarks, calling her effort  a "bipartisan" one,  USA Today reports. Jindal "made 'multiple requests' for the funding and worked with the senator's office for more than a year to obtain it, she said" (Kiely, 2/4).

The Hill: Landrieu released a Sept. 16 e-mail from a top state health department official in the Jindal administration urging the state's congressional delegation to secure the Medicaid funds for Louisiana. It said, "Once there is agreement, then we will draft a statement for the delegation's consideration applauding the secretary and administration for recognizing the problem and working with Congress to solve it." Although Jindal acknowledged the effort to obtain money in November, he has not provided political support to Landrieu. Landrieu, who described herself as a "scapegoat,"  said Thursday, "the people of not just my state but the nation need to know the truth. … (Jindal) was asked on a number of occasions, and he just declined to comment" (Rushing, 2/4).

Politico reports, Jindal replied to Landrieu's speech in a statement: "I'm against the health care bill and always have been. You would have to live in a cave not to know that. I opposed it even with the FMAP language" – the technical term for the $300-million boost – "in it. I am glad the health care bill is dead." At the end of his statement, he added that "we are all going to have to work together and across party lines to fix the faulty FMAP formula" (Budoff Brown, 2/4).

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