House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is backing away from a deal she cut with conservative Blue Dog Democrats to advance healthcare reform, said a source familiar with talks, according to The Hill.
Pelosi’s decision steers the healthcare legislation back to the left as she prepares for a floor vote. She wants to include a government-run public option in the House version of the bill. She wants to model it on Medicare, with providers being reimbursed on a scale pegged to Medicare rates.
Blue dog Democrats, many of whom represent rural districts where Medicare reimbursement rates are low, vehemently oppose tying the public option to Medicare.
Rep. Mike Ross, D-Ark., and a group of fellow blue dogs had negotiated a deal with Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., in July that would remove the link to Medicare. Under that plan, officials with the government-run plan would negotiate individually with providers.
That move, which drew howls of protest from liberal members, prevented the bill from getting stuck in committee. But Ross returned from the August break saying he couldn't support a public option under any circumstances, essentially withdrawing his support for the deal.