July 29th, 2009
01:31 PM ET
9 years ago

House Dems reach deal on heath care bill

Rep. Mike Ross announced that a group of fiscally conservative Democrats has reached a deal with House Democratic leaders on a health care reform bill.

Rep. Mike Ross announced that a group of fiscally conservative Democrats has reached a deal with House Democratic leaders on a health care reform bill.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - A group of fiscally conservative House Democrats announced Wednesday they reached a deal with the chamber's Democratic leaders on a health care reform bill.

Rep. Mike Ross of Arkansas, speaking for the so-called Blue Dog Democrats, said the agreement calls for the House Energy and Commerce Committee to begin debating the bill later Wednesday, but for no vote by the full House until after the upcoming August congressional recess.

Ross and the Blue Dogs had threatened to derail the bill in the Energy and Commerce Committee due to concerns that it cost too much and failed to address systemic problems in the nation's ailing health care industry.

The Energy and Commerce Committee is one of three House committees that needs to pass the bill before it is voted on by the full chamber. The other two committees have already cleared it.

The deal was announced as President Barack Obama hit the road to build more public support for reform, telling a North Carolina audience that a failure to fix the system now will have catastrophic consequences in the years ahead.

If Congress fails to act soon, he warned a Raleigh town hall audience, health costs will double over the next decade, make millions more Americans uninsured, and bankrupt government on both the state and federal level.

The president accused his critics of mischaracterizing his plan as a government takeover of health care.

"No one is talking about some government takeover," he said. "I'm tired of hearing that. ... These folks need to stop scaring everybody."

He also brushed aside criticism that the plan is being rushed through Congress without adequate time for review and debate.

Congressmen will have plenty of time to read the bill, Obama insisted. Noting that Congress won't finish deliberating the legislation until after its August recess, Obama said he'd be willing to invite any representative or senator over to the White House to review the bill "line by line."

The president is slated to make a similar health care pitch later Wednesday to an audience in rural Virginia - a region typically hostile to national Democratic leaders.

Phil Younce, a frozen food clerk at a Kroger supermarket in the town of Bristol, where Obama will speak, told CNN he fears health reform is being rushed, just like the stimulus.

"Like the last package that we pushed through, I think it was too hurried, and a lot of mistakes, a lot of things that shouldn't be," said Younce, who voted for Republican candidate John McCain in the presidential election.

But assistant produce manager Cathy Montgomery, who voted for Obama, said she's excited the president is getting tough with Congress.

"I like the fact that he's stepped up, and he's being aggressive, I really do. I mean, I'm all for that," she said.

Bristol, which is near the Tennessee border, is also where Obama kicked off his general election campaign after defeating Hillary Clinton in the primaries.

Thousands in the area showed up at a health expo offering free medical care over the weekend, exposing a problem all too familiar to doctors in the region.

"Clearly, we all recognize - any physician in the hospital would recognize - that it's a system in crisis," said Dr. Bennett Cowan.

But like most employees at the Kroger supermarket, produce manager Steve Shipplett gets generous health benefits.

Even though he voted for Obama, he's nervous those benefits may be taxed to cover the uninsured. He demanded more specifics from the president.

Obama's "going to have to spit out some numbers and let the public know exactly what it's going to cost them and what they're going to have to give up," he said.

Shipplett added, however, that if the president successfully steps up and sells his plan, then he's willing to step up, too.

"We've got to do something, and if it means me paying these taxes to get this reform through I would begrudgingly do it, yes," he said.

Younce said he is ready to do his share, too.

"No matter what kind of plan you are going to come up with, somebody has to pay for it. So eventually, it comes down to us - the people that's working and paying taxes. We're going to have to pay for it one way or another. I just hope we can come up with a plan that is worth paying for," he said.

- CNN's Dana Bash and Ed Henry contributed to this report.

(Updated at 1:30 p.m. with additional information)

Filed under: Congress • Health care
soundoff (90 Responses)
  1. Ryan Indy

    Looks like Pelosi is full of it again, it WILL NOT be voted on before the August Recess, hmmmmmmmmmm Pelosi tell a LIE, NEVER..... I hope the fiscal conservative democrats hold strong to their core beliefs and are not steam rolled by an incomptent president and leader in the senate and house.

    July 29, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  2. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    What agreement have they come to? These Blue Dogs seem like they're holding this bill hostage.

    July 29, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  3. bozo the obama

    onward from socialism to communism under the mesiah.

    July 29, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  4. S M R

    We will sure remember those who opposed this plan in 2010.The GOP is TOAST.

    July 29, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  5. Jim in Indiana

    If this bill is passed it will break the Republicans. It will be their Waterloo.

    July 29, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  6. Dominic

    With out a strong public option Americans will come up short in this so called reform

    July 29, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  7. jill

    Why don't they just vote on it, we want the same insurance they have, they don't get denied benefits, they don't get turned down for having previous ailments. They don't have to worry about paying these outrageous bills. My husband lost his job, and cobra was too high, so on top of loosing his pay, I had to put him on my insurance then my company gave everyone a 10% pay cut. How are we suppose to pay our bills?

    July 29, 2009 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  8. Victor L Winters

    If this Health Care Bill gets signed into Law, this will be as big of an accomplishment as Lyndon Johnson getting the Civil Right Act passed in 1964.

    July 29, 2009 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  9. Cassandra Chandler

    I need to know what is in the comprimise.

    July 29, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  10. Donald Stephens

    The main "systemic problem" in health care in this country is the crooked insurance industry which inflates prices and their own profits.

    July 29, 2009 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  11. Hugh, Miami

    Totally rediculous. These "Blue Dogs" are working mostly on behalf of the insurance companies. Shameful. Many Americans need healthcare reform now not at the leisure of Congress.

    July 29, 2009 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  12. Scott L

    Bye Bye vacations. HAHA you liberals get what you deserve...with the skyrocketing costs of this health care bill, say bye bye to your annual beach vacation fund. Don't come whining to Scott L.

    You idiots have no clue about how consumer cash flow works. Tie it up in expensive health care and higher taxes to pay for other people getting care then you have less cash flow to your pocket. CASH FLOW idiots.

    July 29, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  13. Stacy

    We need to KNOW if it includes PUBLIC OPTION! NO PUBLIC OPTION, NO REFORM! They just don't get it!

    July 29, 2009 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  14. Hilary

    This is good, if it's true. I don't trust the Blue Dogs at all.

    July 29, 2009 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  15. briggs

    didn't hear the bluedogs barking so loudly when george bush spent trillions of suprlus as a tax break for the rich-didn't hear the bluedogs bark so loudly when georg bush spent trillions in iraq or when he hijacked the constitution agian and again. time for the real democrats to get rid of the phony bluedogs who call themselves repulicans and put them on a leash and walk them from the congress over to the nearest repubican kennel!

    July 29, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  16. Ken

    Good. Let's get on with it now.

    And please ignore all statements made by any [R]s. Thay are a mindless bunch of neo-nincompoops. While in charge of Congress for most of 12 years they didn't do a single meaningful thing to reform health care. We already know they want the status quo, and their vote now will be 'no'.....OK, so be it....let the adults debate this and make the new laws.....MOVE FORWARD!

    July 29, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  17. Zero.

    They had too. But it wont work. Now they have to sell it to the Public.

    If they dictate it be accepted, then your "Stupid" if you let them...

    July 29, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  18. kishen c.rao

    Excellent...we needed long time ago...but better late than never...now they know of American people needed this legislation....we need to pass the health care reform....stop the robbery...from insurance guys...

    July 29, 2009 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  19. Ken

    I wonder how many in Congress have even read the so called health care bill?

    Have they removed or made sure in the bill that the ILLEGAL ALIENS WOULD NOT receive any of the benefits?

    Who is going to pay for all of this? We will be in debt so deep that we will never be able to dig ourselves out of it.

    This is truly insane, what is the rush here?

    July 29, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  20. dominican mama 4 Obama

    Okay. Let's see the "finished" product. How many concessions to the insurance companies How "watered down" will it be? Or will we be pleasantly surprised? I'm such a cynic at this point, that I think not.

    July 29, 2009 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  21. jj12345

    Besides abortions, what other elective surgeries will be covered by the government plan?

    July 29, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  22. HBO


    What now Rethugicans?

    July 29, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  23. AMA has it right -- this is a bad idea

    Las Vegas has put out odds sayng that 85% or more of the democrats ready to vote on this have not even read the legislation. The Dems are playing with our health and our very lives. All Seniors now on medicare, get ready for rationing of care - that life extending operation may not be available if you are over 70 years of age.

    July 29, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  24. Glenn; Detroit, MI


    I would love to see the party that took control to actually do something useful with that control, and this would be a huge step. We need some form of universal health coverage, and as a working taxpayer I'm willing to pay a little more so those who aren't covered get some form of coverage. I think many of us are, but we wnat to see something that really works and isn't just another busted system that needs fixing right out of the gate.

    July 29, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  25. Rob in Detroit Mi.

    For all so called Bludogs ,wait until the midterm elections you just cost yourself relection.

    July 29, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
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