Tough talk from the E&C chairman, after days and days of effort by him and the White House to mollify the bastards:
Waxman is hoping the inclusion of a study on Medicare reimbursement rates in the healthcare overhaul will be enough to placate the centrist Democrats, who say the government program short-changes hospitals and physicians in their rural districts.
If that’s not, the seven Blue Dogs could join with the committee’s Republicans to “eviscerate” healthcare reform, and that’s something Waxman will not tolerate.
“I won’t allow them to hand over control of our committee to Republicans,” Waxman told reporters.
“I don’t see what other alternative we have, because we’re not going to let them empower Republicans on the committee.”
Well, maybe he decided to call their bluff, because, Blue Dog point
asshole man on healthcare Mike Ross says the deal that was in the works is off.
“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.
If Waxman went into the meeting saying their demands were off the table, that could be an indication that Waxman, and leadership, are ready to move ahead, bypassing E&C, and are confident that they’ve got the votes without the Blue Dogs. Waxman isn’t in the habit of being reckless. As of yet, I haven’t seen a comment from Waxman following this announcement from Ross. I’ll update as necessary.
And, because you just can’t see this one enough, three weeks of delay means:
- 143,250 people will lose their health insurance coverage [pdf]
- 53,507 people will file for bankruptcy because they can’t pay their medical bills
- 1,265 people will die [pdf] because they lack coverage
More discussion in Pragmaticus’s diary.
Update: The possibility that Ross is full of it when it comes to these negotiations and their substance also cannot be discounted, particularly considering this, from just an hour or so before Ross made his pronouncement:
The chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Representative Henry Waxman of California, said Friday that House leaders had reached a potentially crucial agreement on reducing geographical disparities in the rates that Medicare pays health-care providers around the country….
Mr. Waxman said House leaders had met late into the night Thursday in an effort to resolve that particular concern, and he said he would be meeting shortly with the seven Blue Dogs to discuss the proposal. But he also threatened to push ahead if the Blue Dogs remained unwilling to compromise.
That doesn’t sound like Waxman going into the meeting to pull everything off the table.