Landrieu denies 'purchase' of vote

By: Jennifer Haberkorn,

Sen. Mary L. Landrieu on Thursday tried to quell critics who accused her of making a backroom deal to secure $300 million in Medicaid funding for Louisiana in the Senate’s health care reform bill.

“Nothing about this effort was secret. Nothing,” the Louisiana Democrat said in a floor speech in her most vigorous defense yet of the measure, more than two months after the provision was released.

The funding was designed to make up for a flaw in the Medicaid formula that would have cost the state $400 million to $600 million in funding because of the effects of Hurricane Katrina, she said.

Now that the health care bill is stalled in Congress, Mrs. Landrieu said she’s worried that the Medicaid fix won’t happen, leaving her state with a large budget shortfall. If the health reform bill doesn’t pass, she’s laying the groundwork to include the fix in the next health-related bill Congress takes up.

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