The Democrats have their 60 on health care.
Party leaders reached a deal with Sen. Ben Nelson early Saturday morning on abortion restrictions, giving Democrats a filibuster-proof voting block for the health care reform bill. After suffering through a terrible week (what, with liberals screaming about killing the bill), it now appears that we'll have a health care reform bill on the president's desk by Christmas.
Three interesting points I'm finding as I read through the deal:
Why Did Nelson Agree to the Deal?
Most stories suggest that Nelson got on board when Sen. Harry Reid included an amendment that restricts insurance coverage for abortions. It reads like this: "A state may elect to prohibit abortion coverage in qualified health plans offered through an exchange in such state if such state enacts a law to provide for such prohibition."
Wonk Room also reports that Nelson's state of Nebraska will receive extra Medicaid funds in this bill. Sen. Harry Reid says that this measure didn't factor strongly in Nelson's final decision, but it seems to me that, since Nelson's had been railing against the Medicaid expansion as an underfunded mandate for months, this was a pretty sly hand-out.
What Did the CBO Say?
The bill would cost an average of $87 billion a year for the first ten years. It would expand coverage to about 30 million Americans. It is projected to reduce the deficit by $132 billion over the next ten years. Here's the summation from CBO chief Doug Elmendorf's blog: