Saturday, October 31, 2009

"Pelosi Throws a Bone to Blue Dogs"

Beth Marlowe (The Plum Line):
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wants to make sure Blue Dogs vote for health-care reform.

With what seemed like half the House crowded behind her at the podium, Pelosi announced the bill that will be debated on the House floor would include a public option, but a version more acceptable to the moderate Democrats. The full text of the bill is here.

Why? Pelosi needed their votes.

As our Greg Sargent first reported, Pelosi had barely 200 of the 218 votes she’d need for a more “robust” public option.

That “robust” public option was what progressives would have preferred . It would have paid doctors and hospitals based on Medicare reimbursement rates, which are the lowest in the industry. Instead, Pelosi chose to include a public option in which the government would have to negotiate rates with doctors and hospitals, which means they’ll end up paying them more than with the “robust” option.

It’s the outcome Blue Dogs wanted, especially those from rural areas. They said Medicare, which pays hospitals based on cost-of-living in their area, was already reimbursing doctors and hospitals far too little, and they worried that rural hospitals would not survive if the public option paid at Medicare rates.

This will make it harder for moderate Democrats to vote against the bill, and Pelosi needs only a handful of the 56 Blue Dogs on board to get a bill through the House.

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