WASHINGTON (CNN) - House Democrats split sharply over the issue of health care reform Friday as a key committee chairman said he would not negotiate further with party conservatives worried about spiraling medical costs.
"We're not going to let them empower the Republicans. I don't see any other alternative," said House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, D-California.
Waxman's comments came shortly after a representative of a group of fiscally conservative House Democrats urged congressional leaders to slow the pace of health care deliberations.
Arkansas Rep. Mike Ross, a key member of the influential Blue Dog coalition, said he remains concerned that the legislation currently being pushed through the House of Representatives does not do enough to rein in health care inflation.
"This is fundamental change that's going to effect all 300 million people in America," Ross said on CNN's "American Morning."
"Let's not rush it. Let's slow down. Let's get it right and ensure that the American people get the kind of health care that they need and deserve."
The bill as currently drafted "doesn't do nearly enough to contain those costs (and) get after the kind of fundamental reforms and changes that we need in how we deliver and pay for health care," he said.
Ross reached an agreement with Obama and Waxman on Tuesday to create an independent council to set Medicare reimbursement rates as a way to help hold down costs.
Waxman told reporters on Capitol Hill that he is willing to keep talking with the Blue Dog conservatives, but also made clear he intends to move forward with the legislation. He said he would bypass a committee vote if necessary and bring the bill directly to the House floor for a final vote.
Legislation is typically approved by the relevant committees before being considered by the full House. On rare occasions, however, House leaders can remove a bill from a committee and bring it directly to a vote by the full House.
Waxman's committee is one of three House committees that is supposed to clear the health care bill; the other two have already done so.
On Thursday, the top Democrat in the U.S. Senate said the chamber won't vote on a health care reform bill until after the upcoming August recess.
The announcement by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada went against President Barack Obama's stated timetable for both the House and Senate to turn out bills before the August break. After Reid's statement, Obama said he would accept a delay so long as work toward passing a bill continued.
Obama met with Reid and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus at the White House Friday to discuss the state of the controversial bill.
–CNN's Dana Bash, Evan Glass, and Brianna Keilar contributed to this report