Posted by Adele Stan, AlterNet at 3:42 PM on July 30, 2009.
In a letter to Speaker Pelosi and committee chairmen, 53 CPC members say no votes for a bill the Blue Dogs like.
Members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus are not amused by the deal struck on health-care reform by Henry Waxman, D-Calif., with conservative Democratic members of his committee.
With seven members of the Blue Dog Coalition on the Energy and Commerce Committee gumming up the works of health-care legislation, Waxman last night relented on a significant feature of the public insurance plan offered in the bill already passed by the Ways and Means Committee and the Education and Labor Committee -- one that pegs reimbursement rates for providers to the rates set by Medicare.
The Blue Dogs want providers to be able to negotiate rates with the government, a feature that would decrease the ability of government to drive down costs by creating pressure on private insurers.
TPM's Brian Beutler reports that, earlier today, the CPC gathered the signatures of 53 of its members on a letter delivered to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and the chairman of the three relevant committees: Waxman, Charles Rangel, D-N.Y. (Ways and Means), and George Miller, D-Calif. (Education and Labor). From the CPC letter:
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. 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.
To offset the increased costs incurred by adopting the provisions advocated by the Blue Dog members of the Committee, the agreement would reduce subsidies to low- and middle-income families, requiring them to pay a larger portion of their income for insurance premiums, and would impose an unfunded mandate on the states to pay for what were to have been Federal costs.
Rangel, however, appears undaunted by the Blue Dog deal. When I asked him today about the prospects for a "robust" public plan, the Ways and Means chairman assured me that any bill that made it to the House floor would have one. In other words, Energy and Commerce can pass a bill containing the Blue Dog scheme, but it's unlikely to survive the House Committee on Rules, which will reconcile the bills passed by all three committees before it goes to the floor.