In Letter, House Progressives Object To Blue Dog Public Option Compromise

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In a letter to be delivered to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House health care leaders, Congressional progressives will reject a compromise Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) forged with Blue Dog Democrats to advance legislation. “We regard the agreement reached by Chairman Waxman and several Blue Dog members of the [Energy and Commerce] Committee as fundamentally unacceptable,” it reads.

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.

You can read the letter, the text of which was obtained by TPMDC, below the fold. It was being circulated for signatures until early this afternoon*, and could be released officially later today. Members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus are hoping 50 or more members will sign on, to prove they have enough votes to kill the final bill. Earlier today, over 30 had added their names to it, according to one source, but that number could have grown. We’ll get you more details as they’re made available.

Late update: House Progressives have announced that they’ve rounded up 53 signatures–if every one of them legitimately votes against a bill that incorporates the compromises the Blue Dogs extracted, they would kill it.

Late, late update: * After making it to 50 signatures, progressives will continue to seek signatures, hoping to achieve 60.

July 31, 2009

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi The Honorable Henry Waxman
Speaker Chairman

U.S. House of Representatives House Committee on
Energy and Commerce

H-232, The Capitol 2125
Rayburn House Office Building

Washington, DC 20515 Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Charles Rangel The Honorable George Miller

Chair Chair

House Committee on Ways and Means House Committee on
Education and Labor

1102 Longworth House Office Building 2181 Rayburn House Office Building

Washington, DC 20515 Washington, DC
20515

Dear Madame Speaker, Chairman Waxman, Chairman Rangel, and Chairman Miller:

We write to voice our opposition to the negotiated health care reform agreement under consideration in the Energy and Commerce Committee.

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.

In short, this agreement will result in the public, both as insurance purchasers and as taxpayers, paying ever higher rates to insurance companies.

We simply cannot vote for such a proposal.

Sincerely,

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at brian@talkingpointsmemo.com
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