House Democratic leaders were planning to unveil a final health care reform bill today, but on the eve of the announcement, a group of “Blue Dog Democrats” released a list of demands that have forced the leadership to wait until next week as Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer attempt to broker a compromise.
In a letter to Speaker Pelosi, the conservative “Blue Dog” members claimed that they are concerned about the cost of the health care bill:
Paying for care reform must start with finding savings within the current delivery system and maximizing the value of our health care dollar before we ask the public to pay more. […]
The discussion draft fails to include adequate structural changes that will succeed in lowering costs and increasing value.
But the letter also comes out against a public plan, which is one of the primary tools to rein in health care costs over the long-term. The letter complains, “‘A Medicare-like’ public option would negatively impact hospitals, doctors and patients…using Medicare’s below-market rates would seriously weaken the financial stability of our local hospitals and doctors.”
Igor Volsky notes there’s “an inherent contradiction” in this letter: the Blue Dogs want to find more savings within the system, but they’re also asking that the bill spend more.
Fortunately, there is at least one “Blue Dog” member who understands this contradiction and is willing to break from her coalition to support a public plan. On MSNBC this afternoon, Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) said, “I am one of those people who believes that we should be required to have a public option because it will bring the costs of health care down.” Watch it:
Sanchez is right. If the “Blue Dogs” wanted to stick to their principles of bringing costs down, they’d join with Sanchez to endorse a public plan.