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Landrieu so far refuses to back hollow words with action

Sen. Mary Landrieu has changed her tune somewhat on her “Louisiana Purchase” provision in current Senate legislation that would increase the cost of health care and decrease its quality, but if she’s seriously committed to finding additional money for the state’s Medicaid program she needs to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.

Louisiana’s Medicaid reimbursement rate is scheduled to increase dramatically with fiscal year 2011 because of an artifact in the law does not account for the effects of a large amount of federal government spending for disaster relief. Partially to offset that, Democrat Landrieu got a provision tucked into the bill in question that would shovel in 2011 an additional $112-230 million to the state. But Republican Sen. Tom Coburn is trying to get either standing alone or combined with others an amendment to strip that provision from the bill.

At first Landrieu crowed about swinging the deal and then became defensive about removing the provision. Her mood has swung again; now she claims she would “relish” defending the provision if the Coburn measure makes it to the floor. But if she is sincere about the entire fix to demonstrate her words don’t ring hollow, she needs to prove it by actions.

This would entail her not to oppose from being debated Coburn’s amendment or its attachment to anybody else’s. Then we would get a chance to hear her full eloquence, including the chance to answer why she has not to this point introduced separate legislation, or to include in a supplemental appropriation the provision. (She already missed one chance.) She also must do one or both of those two things. If she sincerely believes in the righteousness of her request, she will not attach it to this bill that has uncertain chances of passing and the goodness of it being washed away by all the controversy surrounding the entire bad bill in which it resides currently. To fail to do so, risking failure of its passage when she can make a convincing argument for it to pass on its own, signifies she is not serious about the matter.

Landrieu has a long history of talking stuff up for political consumption, and then either not following through or doing the opposite of what she said (such as the appointment vote for Miguel Estrada to the appellate bench). Given that, Landrieu needs to take these actions – allowing Coburn’s amendment to the floor and introducing separate legislation for the fix or put it in a supplemental – to prove that, for once, her actions actually back her soothing palaver designed to impress the folks back home.

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