Sen. Vitter: Healthcare bill is 'Louisiana Sell-out,' not 'Louisiana Purchase'

The Senate's healthcare bill might offer Louisiana about $300 million in Gulf Coast recovery money, but that's still not enough to win Republican Sen. David Vitter's (R) support, he told supporters on Wednesday.

The entire bill's costs to the state amount to a "Louisiana Sell-out," he said this afternoon -- not a "Louisiana Purchase," as some of Vitter's colleagues have charged when referencing Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu's (D-La.) decision to vote for the bill despite her initial skepticism.

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"I don’t like the nickname for two reasons and today I went to the floor of the U.S. Senate to explain why," Vitter wrote in an e-mail to supporters. "First, the fact that we have to pay a higher Medicaid match under present law because of the hurricanes is a real inequity. Second, the phrase makes it sound like Louisiana would fare well under the bill."

"Nothing could be further from  the truth," Vitter added.

By the senator's logic, Democrats' bill cuts Medicare and increases taxes over the long term, while the $300 million grant is little more than a "one-time benefit." The resulting increase in premiums and decrease in local hiring would have more of an effect on the local economy and consumers' checkbooks than the new federal assistance ever will, Vitter explained.

"If we truly want to put Louisiana first, we must say no to this bill," the senator said. " Even with the $300 million provision, Louisiana comes out way, way behind."

Of course, Landrieu views that money in a far different light. While she acknowledged Tuesday she fought hard for her state to receive that federal assistance, she said it was both deserved and still available for other states struggling to cope with the consequences of natural disasters.

She also suggested the state's entire delegation -- perhaps Vitter included -- at one point agreed on the need for that grant.

"I make no excuses, I am not bowed, I am proud to have done this, and it did not cause me to vote for this bill," Landrieu told C-SPAN. "Had this thing been in the bill and others weren't, I wouldn't have voted for it. It's as simple as that."

But, "Louisiana was going to be treated like we were like Connecticut or Maryland, a much richer state," Landrieu added. "We are not....Our entire delegation supported this, so yes, I asked for it to be included in the bill."