Pelosi Defends Agreement with Blue Dogs
By Perry Bacon Jr.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) strongly defended an agreement on health care reform she and other Democratic leaders reached with four conservative members of the party yesterday, a day after some liberal Democrats sharply attacked the deal and threatened to vote against the bill.
Some of the most liberal Democrats criticized the outlines of the agreement with the Blue Dogs, conservative members of Congress who had forced a two-week impasse over health care legislation under consideration by the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The agreement yesterday, as outlined by the negotiators, would create a government insurance option that would pay doctors and other health care providers at prices akin to what doctors are paid by private insurance companies, instead of the lower rates generally paid under Medicare.
Liberal Democrats say that by not paying Medicare rates, the government insurance option won't be as effective in reducing health care costs.
But Pelosi emphasized that the government insurance option was still in the bill, and the House was on the verge of passing a version of that provision that was similar to what the Senate's Health, Education, Pensions and Labor Committee has already passed -- a measure seen as progressive.
"The proposal by the Blue Dogs is the exact same language as in the Senate, Senator (Edward M.) Kennedy's bill," Pelosi said, invoking the chairman of the Senate HELP Committee, who is suffering from brain cancer and has played a limited role in the legislative process on health care.
"I have enormous respect for Senator Kennedy," she said. "I know he supports a strong public option, so I have a comfort with his language."
The Energy and Commerce Committee, which had stalled its process of considering the bill because of the dispute with the Blue Dogs, will restart its public debate on the bill today and could approve it by the end of the week. Even if the House committee approves a government insurance option, it remains unclear if such a provision would be approved the Senate, where some Democrats and nearly all Republicans have said they would oppose it.
Web Politics Editor
July 30, 2009; 2:01 PM ET
Categories: Dem. Leaders , Health Reform
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