Ala. AG still objects to Nebraska healthcare deal

John O'Brien Jan. 4, 2010, 2:48pm


MONTGOMERY, Ala. (Legal Newsline) - One of the 13 state attorneys general considering a challenge to the healthcare bill is calling what he says is an offer made by U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson "unacceptable."

Nelson, a Democrat from Nebraska, gave Senate Democrats their 60th vote in passing the legislation after a measure was included that exempted his state from having to pay for any newly eligible Medicaid recipients.

South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster is leading the group of AGs who may challenge, and he says Nelson told him the exemption would be offered to the other 49 states if the group does not.

On Monday, Alabama Attorney General Troy King supported McMaster's refusal of the deal. He called the offer "unacceptable under any and all circumstances."

"Thursday night, Senator Nelson called South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster and offered to give all states their own version of the Nebraska Compromise in return for our attorneys general group calling off the dogs," King said.

"Attorney General McMaster's response was exactly correct - we reject Sen. Nelson's offer. This issue has never been about healthcare reform legislation; rather, it is about upholding the Constitution.

"I cannot stop the United States Senate from making shady deals and passing bad legislation, but I can object to a violation of the Constitution and take actions as attorney general to stop it."

Other attorneys general in McMaster's group are Washington's Rob McKenna, Michigan's Mike Cox, Texas' Greg Abbott, Colorado's John Suthers, North Dakota's Wayne Stenehjem, Virginia's Bill Mims, Pennsylvania's Tom Corbett, Utah's Mark Shurtleff, Florida's Bill McCollum, Idaho's Lawrence Wasden and South Dakota's Marty Jackley.

Nelson defended the bill in television ad that aired during the Holiday Bowl, in which the University of Nebraska was playing.

Politico reports that other Senate Democrats have made no mention of extending the provision to other states.

From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at

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