The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the cost of extending the so-called “Cornhusker kickback” to all states — and thus have the federal government pay the full price of expanding Medicaid by 15 million people — would add $35.3 billion to the cost of the Senate health care bill.
But there’s a catch.
A deeper look at the numbers shows that the measure wouldn’t have a budget impact for seven years, meaning that the $35.3 billion figure only applies to 2017 through 2019 — making the true 10 year cost much higher.
This may become relevant again, because House members remain uneasy about passing the Senate bill that includes the special deal for Nebraska. If they tried to go the reconciliation route, they’d probably want to extend the deal to all states — but as it is, cutting the deal they did with labor unions over the “Cadillac tax” would deprive them of $60 billion in revenue. Thus, they’d have to find another way of financing the expansion, making the process even more complicated.