Can House Dems save the public option?

A large group of House Democrats voices its opposition to the deal struck with the Blue Dogs

By Alex Koppelman
July 31, 2009 7:45PM (UTC)
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The real fight in Congress over healthcare reform will probably not be between Democrats and Republicans, but between Democrats and Democrats.

Senate Democrats will want a more moderate bill than most of their their counterparts in the House, because of the threat of a filibuster in the Senate, and they'll be joined by the Blue Dogs in the House in pushing for the softer version. But there's a catch: If the bill is watered down enough that swing senators and Blue Dogs can vote for it, there might not be enough support from liberals in the House for it to pass.


And now, after weeks of the Blue Dogs and the Senate hogging the headlnes, the liberals are stepping up to proclaim their opposition to a deal struck with the Blue Dogs. In a letter (which, via TPMDC, can be downloaded in PDF form here) to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif, along with two other relevant committee chairs, 57 representatives say they "simply cannot vote for" the proposal as outlined in the agreement.

"We regard the agreement reached by Chairman Waxman and several Blue Dog members of the Committee as fundamentally unacceptable. This agreement is not a step forward toward a good health care bill, but a large step backwards," the letter says. "Any bill that does not provide, at a minimum, for a public option with reimbursement rates based on Medicare rates -not negotiated rates -is unacceptable. It would ensure higher costs for the public plan, and would do nothing to achieve the goal of"keeping insurance companies honest," and their rates down."

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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