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Why did the poor lose money in the new Senate bill?

PH2009112000946.jpgAs the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities points out, the Senate bill's subsidies are, in general, more generous than the Senate Finance bill's subsidies, but a sliver of folks between 134 percent and 154 percent of the poverty line saw their help cut a bit. The dollar amounts involved here are pretty small -- someone at 134 percent of poverty will pay $80 more than under the Finance bill -- but it's worth correcting.

Luckily, Harry Reid has wiggle room. His bill clocks in at $849 billion over 10 years. That gives him $51 billion to play with before he hits $900 billion. And given that Obama's preferred cost was "around $900 billion," there's even more upward flexibility than that. But it would have been far easier if he had maxed out the subsidies when he was building the bill on his own, rather than leaving it for the floor of the Senate, where any changes will need 60 votes. When CBO came back at $849 billion, Reid could have quickly tossed in $40 billion of low-income subsidies before unveiling the bill. From here on out, the legislation is likely to get less generous, not more generous, as Nelson and Lieberman and Landrieu and Lincoln extract their pound of flesh.

Photo credit: AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke.

By Ezra Klein  |  November 20, 2009; 12:12 PM ET
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yeah, that is weird. Some states' medicaid covers that area but they're the exception to the rule.

Posted by: ThomasEN | November 20, 2009 12:32 PM | Report abuse

That explains why one of the critical features of the House bill that must be adopted in the final conference is the House rules on Medicaid eligibility: extending coverage to the 150% of poverty level. The truly interesting thing with that is that the change actually saves money, even with increasing payments for many providers to the Medicare level, as also proposed in the House bill. They can argue middle class benefits as they see fit, but screwing the poor and the lower income working class is just nasty.

Posted by: PatS2 | November 20, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Honest to God sir, I'm going to shoot the next person that writes an article, blog post, or frickin' graffiti on a wall with some variation on "floor of the Senate, where any changes will need 60 votes."

What is the deal that the press is suddenly allergic to the word 'Filibuster' now that it's Republicans doing so.

Say it with me Ezra -

"Where the Republican's will filibuster any changes"

"Where any changes will be filibustered by the Republican's"

"Where the Republican's will filibuster any changes"

"Where any changes will be filibustered by the Republican's"

See - no lightning. It's simple, easy, and accurate.

I actually don't mind that there *is* a filibuster, but I do get furious that the Democrats are held to the fire on it, and the whole word is linguista non grata when the Republicans are doing it on a regular basis.


Posted by: Jonnan | November 20, 2009 3:26 PM | Report abuse

My theory is that this cut was made to encourage states to adopt Cantwell's basic health plan, which covers this demographic.

The economic argument for the basic health plan becomes stronger as dollars become scarce.

Posted by: bmull | November 20, 2009 11:42 PM | Report abuse

because max isn't really all that much a Democratic Senator?


because he doesn't really care about his Montana constituents, many of them who actually fall into that income range?


because [insert ad hominem attack here]


he doesn't thing they vote


to appease Kent Conrad from N. Dakota where [believe it or not] folks are "richer"


Posted by: grooft | November 21, 2009 2:44 AM | Report abuse

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