December 19th, 2009
10:09 AM ET
10 months ago

Sources: Dem leaders have eased senator's doubts on health bill

Democratic leaders have eased Sen. Nelson's doubts on the health bill.
Democratic leaders have eased Sen. Nelson's doubts on the health bill.

Washington (CNN) – U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson, the lone Democratic holdout on the Senate health care reform bill, has reached an agreement with Democratic leaders, several Democratic senators said Saturday on Capitol Hill.

Nelson, a social conservative from Nebraska who opposes abortion, does not want taxpayer funds to pay for that medical procedure. His vote is crucial for Democrats, who want to avoid a GOP filibuster.

The senators were said to be caucusing on the terms of the agreement.

Asked whether he was on board with it, Ben Nelson replied, "Yeah."

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-California, who was one of the key senators involved in the talks with Ben Nelson, confirmed that she's satisfied that the language of the agreement achieves its goal.

"My goal was to try to reach some compromise so we could move forward on health care, where the basic premise was we could separate federal funds from private funds. I think we achieved that."

Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, agreed, saying the deal follows the principles of the Hyde amendment, which prevents federal funds from being used for abortions.

"Anyone who is in the exchange who also gets a federal subsidy because they're poor, if they choose a private insurance policy and want any kind of abortion coverage, they have to write that part of the premium from their own personal funds," the Florida senator said.

The health bill proposes a health insurance exchange for those unable to afford health coverage or don't have coverage. No federal funds could be used to cover abortions for people participating in the exchange, the bill says.

In addition, under national plans that would be administered by the Office of Personnel Management, there has to be, if a state chooses those, at least one that does not offer abortion coverage.


Filed under: Barbara Boxer • Ben Nelson
soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. buckwheat

    This health care plan was cut and dried to pass before all this hub bub.A Democrat will vote for world destruction if his party tells him or he will have hell to pay.All this mess is just posturing.They have the votes ,go ahead and sock it too us.We will meet you at the polls next election.All of this slump was created to get the wonder boy in office. too few voted because they never thought Americans would be this dumb to elect a third world government. We have 50 years of people who have not ever worked and have lived on the public dole and will continue to as long as someone is dumb enough to work and pay the bills. I say lets all quit give everything away and live in public housing. If it is good enough for a president it is good enough for us. We can sleep all day and sell drugs at night and make babies if we can find someone that is not gay.

    December 19, 2009 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  2. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    Lets see which democrat no longer supports this now. Oh yeah, LIEBERMAN.

    December 19, 2009 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  3. phoenix86

    Great, Obama can now lead the US into the largest bankruptcy in history, and prolong the recession, increase job losses and usher in high inflation.

    I wonder who he will demonize for this?

    December 19, 2009 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  4. Scott, Tucson

    I wonder just how much he sold out for??

    December 19, 2009 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  5. raj

    on the path of bankruptcy,,,Mandatory health Care ?????

    December 19, 2009 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  6. ib

    Pathetic; I know we need some kind of reform but not gov. take over and all this spending will end our country. I was against the spending in Bush's last term but this is unreal. People wake up we have to vote these people out if they don't stop this uncontrolled spending. But then again we may not have a country left in Nov. 2010 to vote them out.

    December 19, 2009 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  7. Chipster

    Congratulations to the Senator on pouting and whining until he managed to have blatant discrimination written into the healthcare Bill. Where do I send the list of other procedures that I don't want taxes to pay for? Perhaps men shouldn't be allowed to have taxpayers footing the bill for prostate surgery or vasectomies. Sure, those are legal procedures but men can purchase insurance on their own to pay for them. If we can discriminate against women, why not men?

    This Bill has become so ridiculous that nobody really cares if it passes or not. It's useless anyhow!

    Democrats should be ashamed of all their selfish demands that have destroyed the only real opportunity we had at getting healthcare reform. This is why we worked so hard to achieve a Democratic majority? Don't look for us to make that effort again in the future. It just really isn't worth it.

    If taxpayers could only vote to limit salaries for our elected officials and make them pay for their own health coverage...........!

    December 19, 2009 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  8. gary davis Harbor Oregon

    put a public government policy back in the bill so insurance companies have to compete with a lower cost insurance from the government ..take away the ability of greed from the industry :)

    December 19, 2009 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  9. Donkey Party

    Amazing how social conservatives are first in line to challenge abortion, but are dead last in line when it comes to adoption, paying for children's healthcare, or their education, or after school programs, or any "social" program that might benefit that precious fetus once it leaves the womb. In other words, they fight for the lives of the unborn, and condemn the lives of the living. Once that fetus is born, the conservatives will do everything in it's power to ensure that "saved" life is as miserable as possible.

    December 19, 2009 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  10. philthetruth

    Make no mistake, these elitist, megalomaniacs, will jam this down our throats despite obvious lack of support. I can't think of a time when this country has faced greater peril, foreign or domestic. If that assessment seems implausible, all one needs to do to make it plausible is to realize that a man like Al Franken is in our senate...

    December 19, 2009 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  11. Terry from West Texas

    So the nation waits while Sen. Nelson panders for votes among the anti-abortion Conservatives in his state. This abortion issue is a silly one. Women are going to have abortions. We all know women who have had an abortion – though they might not have told us. I know a couple who have admitted it to me and both believe now that it was the right decision.

    I guess God whispers into Nelson's ear and tells him what is moral and what is not. I guess God has told him when the soul enters the fetus. I guess God does not speak to me and most other Americans, only to Conservative Senators and anti-abortion activists.

    So if you Conservatives get to decide what medical procedures God approves of, why can't the rest of us decide what medical procedures YOU can have. I personally would withhold medical treatment from anyone who smokes cigarettes – God told ME that he hates smokers and will send them all to hell anyway. Also, God told ME that fat people should not receive any medical treatment because he hates fat people. After all, Jesus was not fat.

    Surely that seems fair.

    December 19, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  12. Concerned Democrat

    How disappointing that my fellow Democrats are refusing to listen to the American public who are SHOUTING .....NO to this HEALTH CARE BILL.

    There arrogance is beyond belief and has only served to remind us why we should NEVER have any one party whether Democrat or Republica have a majority in the Senate. It blinds them with power and there are no checks and balances to do what is good for our nation instead of good for their pockets.

    Their egos have led them to believe that any bill is better than no bill. They are willing to sell us out to the insurance companies and obligate us to pay the insurance companies for a worthless piece of legislation.

    This is a sad day, and it looks like I will be boycotting the Democratic primaries and elections.

    I was hoping that Democrats would do the right thing and throw the current legislation away and start over, however , that would make sense and it seems the people in Congress don't have very much sense.

    December 19, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  13. good, now finish up

    enough, you have talked it and talked it

    the repubs will not reason

    no need to bargain or compromise, it is going no where

    the repubs are only looking to re-election, they don't care about the American people

    December 19, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  14. Raj Aryan

    Shame on Senator Nelson for giving up on this issue. This is essentially another version of the Capps amendment that is a backdoor approach for federal funding of elective abortions. As a pro-life, fiscally conservative, Democrat, I am disgusted with this. I will be voting for the GOP in 2010 and 2012 to restore some balance to Washington.

    December 19, 2009 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  15. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    It has to be easier herding cats than keeping the senate democrats on task. Republicans only have to listen to Fox news and the health insurance industry, and they are united.

    December 19, 2009 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  16. gerald paddock

    get it done you people are messing with the american people and i hope they let you know in nov of next year i will .

    December 19, 2009 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  17. h1jen1

    Wonder how much this cost?? How sick and corrupt..

    December 19, 2009 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  18. michael

    It is about time Dems shut up that three-faced Lieberman. Imagine if it wasn't for the stupidity of the American voter with Bush, Liebermister would have been VP.
    VOTE HIM OUT OF OFFICE !!!!!

    December 19, 2009 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  19. Chris

    If you are poor and receiving welfare (also called a subsidy for the poor), the primary goal of our government should be to get you off of welfare. Training, schooling, or just plain telling a person the 'free ride' is over and you are off the subsidy program that's made you into a slave of a liberal society. Welfare is a dumb idea that has outlived it's usefulness.

    December 19, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  20. rumrunner

    its troubling to me that legislation so important to our future would or could be passed strictly along party lines.

    December 19, 2009 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  21. Steve Illinois

    I'm surprised there isn't more Dem Senators holding out waiting to be bribed! Wait until the tax-payers figure out how much this new group going onto Medicaid is going to cost their state in additional taxes.

    December 19, 2009 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  22. sensible Cape Coral FL

    While I can respect Nelson's private preferences re: abortion, I do not feel he has the right to impose those beliefs on the entire country. Abortion is a medical and for some, a religious issue, and should not be politicized for any reason.

    December 19, 2009 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  23. johnrj08

    Ben Nelson is never going to support health care reform. He is continually looking for new things about the bill to reject. Now he is saying that the bill is trying to cover too many people too fast and that it should do so incrementally. Why has he been making a stink for the last two months about the abortion issue if he had a greater problem with the overall bill? The man, like Joe Lieberman, is a shill for the insurance industry. Shameful.

    December 19, 2009 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  24. doubtful and worried

    If the health care bill is as fair as the "stimulus "package, we are in for HEAPS of TROUBLE!

    Some findings on the "stimulus" package:

    The Mercatus Center at George Mason University reviewed the distribution of $157 billion in stimulus dollars based on publicly available reports and found that there was "no statistical correlation" between the amount of money a district got and its income or unemployment rate.

    Rather, the study found that Democratic congressional districts received 1.89 times more money than GOP districts.

    The average award for Democratic districts was $439 million, while the average award for Republican ones was $232 million.

    On average, Democratic districts also got 152 awards, while Republican ones got 94.

    That says it all to me.

    December 19, 2009 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  25. Aunt Bea and Opie

    This guy is cooked anyway,we have only two words for the Insurance Companies.

    December 19, 2009 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
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