Lead Blue Dog: Health Care Negotiations ‘Pretty Much Fell Apart This Afternoon’

Health care reform negotiations between conservative Democrats and Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) collapsed Friday afternoon, a leading Blue Dog Democrat said.

“It pretty much fell apart this afternoon,” Rep. Mike Ross (D-Ark.) told reporters just off the House floor. Ross has been the lead Blue Dog negotiator in the committee.

Waxman met with Blue Dogs this afternoon and took a hard line, Ross said. The Blue Dogs thought they had agreement on an independent commission to reduce Medicare reimbursement rates and on using Senate HELP Committee language to create a public option that Americans could buy in to.

Waxman, said Ross, came into a meeting with Blue Dogs this afternoon and said both were off the table.

“That leaves the chairman with not enough votes to get the bill out of committee,” said Ross.

He had little hope of reaching an agreement any time soon. “It’s my understanding that will be the last meeting we have. He’s talking about a full meeting of the full Democratic caucus of Energy and Commerce,” said Ross. “It’s a Friday afternoon. We’ve got about an hour’s worth of votes. I have no idea if it’s actually going to happen or not.”

A reporter asked Ross as he walked on to the House floor: “So there’s no possibility of a deal now?”

“No,” he said firmly.

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