House Leaders Still Facing Trouble On Overhaul Bill From Dissident Dems
CQ Politics reports that "despite claims of a 'significant breakthrough' on their health care overhaul bill, House leaders still face trouble from dissident Democrats who have blocked action in a key committee. Rep. Mike Ross , D-Ark., said there would be no deal Friday between conservative Blue Dog Democrats on the Energy & Commerce Committee and panel Chairman Henry A. Waxman."
Earlier on Friday, Waxman and other Democratic leaders claimed they had achieved a breakthrough in regard to regional disparities within Medicare, and, therefore within the bill's public plan.
"Blue Dog Democrats and others within the caucus had raised concerns about the differing rates that Medicare uses to pay doctors, hospitals and other health care providers," according to CQ Politics. And many of them, who represent rural areas, say the rates are unfairly low and have refused to back a bill that does not address this issue. "But Ross said the leadership had not gone far enough to satisfy Blue Dog demands for a beefed up independent commission to set payment rates for Medicare and possibly other parts of the health system. He said the Blue Dogs were not part of the deal made on regional disparities in Medicare payments -- that was a different group (Armstrong, Wayne and Epstein, 7/24).
Politico reports that Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman remains angry at the fiscally conservative Democratic Blue Dogs group. "In a meeting with Blue Dogs Friday, Waxman rescinded two previous concessions to help cut health care costs over time and ensure the government-sponsored health care won't impede on the private market. Asked how this leaves the negotiations, Ross said it 'leaves the chairman with not enough votes to get it out of committee.'"
"Party leaders were on the brink of a deal to iron out regional disparities in Medicare payments, a major sticking point for a broad swath of Democrats, including a number of Blue Dogs. Leveling the reimbursement rates should attract more Democrats to the bill. Waxman had agreed to include language in the bill that would grant an outside commission authority to recommend cuts to government-funded health care programs. According to Ross, he also had agreed to include Senate language that would let doctors and other health care providers negotiate rates with the government-sponsored public health care plans.
"But in the Friday session, Waxman told the group that he was taking both concessions off the table, Ross said afterward" (O'Connor, 7/24).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.