Later this afternoon, Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) will expedite the process and seat Scott Brown (R-MA) as the next Senator from Massachusetts. In the last three months of his campaign, Brown attacked health reform efforts by largely misrepresenting the bills in Congress. Brown, who supports the Massachusetts universal health system, caustically sneered at national efforts to replicate their success. “Why would we go and subsidize the failure of other states?” Of course, Brown never mentioned that the Massachusetts system, which he voted for, is funded by $385 million in annual payments through the federal government.
Now, Brown is coming to the Senate promising to kill health reform. He reiterated this promise last Sunday, telling ABC’s This Week that legislators should scrap current legislation and “go back to the drawing board.”
But late last summer, before it was politically advantageous to capitalize on health reform misinformation, Brown actually endorsed the Senate bill he now wants to kill. In an interview with MSNBC’s Dylan Ratigan, Brown stated that the Senate health bill was “really mirroring” the “really great” Massachusetts health plan:
BROWN: Well it’s been interesting looking at the Senate and the US Senate is doing. They’re really mirroring what we did a couple of years ago through Governor Romney’s leadership. We had a bipartisan plan that was carefully crafted to make sure that everybody’s interests were taken into consideration: business, providers, individuals and obviously the Commonwealth. And as I said we have a plan that is somewhat similar to what the Federal plan [...] Without the Federal stimulus dollars and the waiver money filling our plan, it would fail. And you have a really great plan, we’ve gone from 10% uninsured to really 2.6 million people uninsured, er, 2.6% people uninsured. So it’s worked, but it also has its failures.
In the clip, Brown admits that the Massachusetts plan is buoyed by federal money. As the Wonk Room has reported, before the campaign heated up, Brown frequently bragged about relying on federal money and even floated support for the public option for other states. The health bill passed by the Senate would not penalize Massachusetts’ special funds. In fact, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) has ensured that the Brown-backed Massachusetts system would become truly sustainable through “roughly $500 million” in expanded Medicaid funds for the Bay State.
The House-requested changes to the Senate bill, which can be passed at any point right now through reconciliation, would take out the subsidies to Nebraska that Brown has complained loudly about. Of course, for political reasons, Brown will still probably try to vote against reform. But he is doing so out of loyalty to his party, and certainly not by his own convictions that he spelled out so clearly last year. If the Senate bill is signed into law, Brown and his GOP allies fear that the country will act like Massachusetts — where an astounding 79% of people support the healthcare system and millions of previously uninsured people now have health care.