Louisiana, the state that Senator Mary Landrieu represents, has the second-highest poverty rate in the nation. Louisiana also consistently ranks among the least healthy states in the nation. Due to the state's high rate of poverty, 27% of Louisiana residents participate in Medicaid -- the federal health plan for indigent persons. Nonetheless, 21% of Louisiana adults lack health insurance, which exceeds the national rate of 16%.
Despite these statistics, Landrieu has criticized the prospect of a public plan option as an element of healthcare reform. Landrieu argues that she is "not for a government-run, national, taxpayer-subsidized plan, and never will be." Although Landrieu frames her opposition to a public plan as a matter of fiscal constraint, she has apparently accepted at least $100 million in additional Medicaid funding in exchange for her vote to allow debate over healthcare reform to proceed in the Senate. The 60-39 vote was strictly partisan, and the Democrats did not have one vote to spare.
According to Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank, Landrieu and other wavering Democrats received promises of additional federal financial support in exchange for their crucial votes. And even though she accepted additional Medicaid funding, Landrieu still says that she opposes the public plan. Business as usual continues.