Scott Kleeb on Health Care
A: While no one action will stabilize the Medicare program, I believe we must enhance the prescription drug program while making these benefits easier for seniors to access. Moreover, I believe we must fill the "donut hole" so seniors won't be forced to pay unfair premiums & must pursue all available options to reduce drug prices. Finally, I believe we must do more to support incentives for small businesses that struggle to provide health care.
Johanns said that Kleeb was "simply wrong" and that neither he nor state lawmakers would have allowed that to happen.
Kleeb quickly took aim at Johanns during his opening statement, criticizing the former governor for his role in phasing out the state's regional centers. In 2004, Johanns supported a proposal to develop more community-based programs for the mentally ill. As part of that plan, lawmakers lessened the roles of the regional centers and spent the money from institutional treatment on community-based mental health services.
Johanns responded that more than $26 million was budgeted to help with the transition. "We would never have gotten a bill passed with that idea. It would (have been) just cruel beyond cruel," said Johanns.
Johanns said that was a "nice sound bite," but said it would cost the nation $480 billion.
Kleeb responded that at a time when government was spending billions to rescue Wall Street, he thought the federal government could help insure the uninsured. It is estimated that about 200,000 Nebraskans lack health insurance, Kleeb said.
Kleeb also argued that Nebraskans already pay for the uninsured, whose medical bills are passed down by hospitals and doctors to other consumers. "We actually can afford it because we're paying it," Kleeb said.
Johanns said Kleeb made a "major mistake" by calling the Beatrice center a "mental health" facility because it treats the developmentally disabled. He said the policy change allowed Nebraska to access millions in additional federal dollars, allowing 9,000 more people to receive mental health services.
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AK:*Begich over Stevens
DE:Biden and Kaufman
GA:Chambliss v.Martin (Dec. 2 runoff)
MN:Coleman v.Franken (recounting as of Dec.1)
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