Sen. Ben Nelson Praises Effects Of Affordable Care Act…For Now

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE), a last minute hold out on the Affordable Care Act, is potentially facing a tough re-election bid in 2012 and may be having second thoughts about his vote in favor of reform. While he has yet to endorse the Republican effort to repeal the measure — he recently told a local radio station that he would “make some changes” but not “throw it all out just because there are some pieces of it, or parts of it, that aren’t working as good as some others are working” — he has tasked the Government Accountability Office (GAO) with exploring alternatives to reforms most unpopular provision: the individual mandate.

Political pressures and the Senator’s reputation for acting as a thorn in the Democrats’ back could soon push him to take a stronger stance on repeal. Therefore, in an effort to prevent Nelson’s 2012 grandstanding against the law, it’s worth highlighting that Nebraska is already benefiting from reform — and Nelson is taking full credit for delivering the benefits. Yesterday, a local ABC station in Omaha, Nebraska reported that “the One World Community Health Center in south Omaha is planning a major expansion thanks to an $8.9 million grant from the Affordable Care Act.” Fortunately, Nelson was on hand to offer some supportive quotes:

Officials said the money will go toward the $15.3 million project to be built on the former Omaha Stockyards property. […]

The expansion was made possible by the president’s health care reform and by a deciding vote from Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson. “Whether you’re rich or poor, when people need health care, they need to receive it,” Nelson said.

The senator said he hopes critics will understand his vote when they see results like this in the metro.

“It makes me feel real proud to know people who are going to get care here are going to get quality care in quality facilities,” Nelson said.

The existing space for One World inside the Livestock Exchange Building will also be renovated with the funds.

According to, since the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, the Department of Health and Human Services “has made $14.6 million in new grant funding available in Nebraska,” and enrolled 26 employers in the early-retiree program.

It’s worth noting that Sen. John Ensign (R-NV), who supports full repeal, actually sent a letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius requesting grant money authorized by the law for the University of Nevada School of Medicine for “Primary Care Residency Expansion.” Nelson, I hope, avoids similar hypocrisy.