The House Speaker is already slipping earmarks into that 1,900-page monstrosity via the “manager’s amendment,” as the Heritage Foundation’s blog reports:

One such earmark suddenly appeared in H.R. 3962 in Section 1745, “Nursing Home Supplemental Payment Program.” This provision did not exist when the Committee on Energy and Commerce had completed its work. Section 1745 creates a new $6 billion slush fund with the Medicaid program to dispense to nursing homes.

This new fund has several unique characteristics that set it apart from the normal operations of Medicaid. First, payments to Medicaid nursing homes are made through states and require a state to match the federal funds. Under this section, there is no state money and the decision as to what facilities will receive the money will be made by Secretary Sebelius (and therefore no state involvement in decision making). Although the legislation provides $1.5 billion for each year in the period 2010-2013, the Secretary could hold the money for 2010 and 2011 and make big lump sum payments in 2012. Second, she does not have to go through any formal rulemaking process to award the funds. Third, her decision is final and is not subject to any type of review. This is important because facilities that receive the money will have a comparative advantage over its competitors. Finally, the Secretary will be required to tell the respective committees of Congress which facilities received the money, but is not obligated to tell anyone else.

Which Friends of Nancy will benefit from this little $6 billion gift from the taxpayers? Time will tell! As the Heritage bloggers note:

National advocacy groups that insist there should be no profit in health care will need smelling salts by the time the bill is completed.

Finder’s fee: Pundit and Pundette