Sen. Kay Hagan defended the political tradeoffs in the Senate health care bill Tuesday, even as seven state attorneys general investigate the constitutionality of what Sen. Lindsey Graham called a "sleazy process."
"I'd say that [Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid knows how to get 60 votes, and that was very important to our country in order to move forward with that legislation," Hagan, a Democrat from Greensboro, told The Charlotte Observer.
Her comments came the day S.C. Attorney General Henry McMaster said he and his Republican counterparts in Alabama, Colorado, Michigan, North Dakota, Texas and Washington state are taking a joint look at the deal they've called the "Nebraska compromise."
To get the 60 votes he needed to overcome a Republican filibuster, Reid, a Nevada Democrat, sweetened the pot for some senators, including Ben Nelson, a Nebraska Democrat.
His party's last holdout, Nelson wrung out a promise that the federal government would pay 100 percent of the cost indefinitely for expanding Medicaid for low-income Nebraskans.
"Whether in the court of law or in the court of public opinion, we must bring an end to this culture of corruption," McMaster said, adding that the negotiations "on their face appear to be a form of vote buying paid for by taxpayers."
The health care bill passed another procedural test Tuesday as senators voted to shut off debate. Hagan plans to vote for it when it comes to the Senate on Thursday morning. North Carolina's other senator, Republican Richard Burr, opposes it.
Other states also would get special benefits.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont, had expressed reservations after leaders dropped the so-called public option. He decided to support the bill after his state got extra help for Medicaid and he got $10 billion for a pet project, nationwide community health centers. Louisiana and Massachusetts also got help with Medicaid.
And Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut helped get $100 million in the bill for a hospital that could be built at a university in his home state.
"That's not change you can believe in; that's sleazy," Graham, of South Carolina, said on NBC's "The Today Show" Tuesday. Later, he told NPR, "They want 60 votes more than they want a quality bill."
Graham, along with Sen. Jim DeMint, also a South Carolina Republican, asked McMaster to review the process.
Hagan argues that the bill will help North Carolina.
In addition to the bill's coverage of people with pre-existing conditions, she points to some of her own initiatives that became part of the bill. They include efforts to increase the number of primary care doctors in rural communities and creation of a national and state Diabetes Report Card to track progress in efforts to combat the disease.
She said the bill gives the state a 100 percent reimbursement for Medicaid expansion for the first three years and 95 percent after that - higher rates than current formulas.
Administration health officials say the bill would help 1.7 million uninsured North Carolina residents and nearly 500,000 people get more affordable coverage through a new health insurance exchange. They say a new tax credit would help 112,000 small businesses in the state.
"At the end of the day, most people in North Carolina that I know of are going to benefit from health care reform," she said. "And that's why I'm supporting the bill."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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