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. james

    Thats what am talking abt! Let the Party Of No keep on screwing their core values as Obama and the rest of AMAERICA CONTINUE TO REVIVE THE ECONOMY AND BRONG CHANGE THAT WE CAN BLV IN.


    July 29, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |

    I am unemployed going through a divorce have no job and no benefits. Hope their plan will help me get Insurance I can afford. It takes every cent I have to live these days.

    July 29, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  3. Frank

    I guess DeMint and the Republicans won't get their Waterloo moment. They tried to divide the Dems but we pulled together and got it done.

    July 29, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  4. Esco

    People may say Obama's polls have falled...and that may be true to the 100 people who answered the polls. The nation is seeking change in health reform, and the poll missed 300 billions of people in it. This is a smart move on his part to gain support from the people, and thats a good quality a President should have. Not only that, the campaign will enable people to voice their concerns and questions to the President while the is there.

    July 29, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  5. Parkett Lovelace

    If reforming health care is such an emergency, why does the president have to travel around the country to try to convince a few people at a time? Thinking Americans realize this is no more than democrat take-over of our actual living/dying. Dont want it/dont need it!

    July 29, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  6. Blue dog days of summer

    Judging by the sagging poll numbers in July, a lot can happen in a month.

    July 29, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  7. Gerald

    Another notch in the quest to kill America , congrats fools

    July 29, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  8. Scott, Tucson

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

    OH! What about the GM takeover Obama? I guess he believes that the Government does a bang up job running the U.S. Postage Service and lets not forget how they have ran the social security program too, in the RED year after year.

    July 29, 2009 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  9. what is the need...REFORM or REVAMP ?

    Health-care Reform means what? Amend, restore. improve...ok but does it really mean bringing costs down and make it efficient and affordable...?


    Health-care system "Revamp" meaning a total make-over after current costs and delivery have been first audited and then studied by different panels of medical professionals., pharamceutical, government agents from both State and Federal groups and most important don't forget to include just ordinary folks–at times they have the better judgement whats needed...What is the sudden rush...Lets get it right and not talk ourselves into a worse system...Everybody must pull together cut costs and make it affordable for all Americans.

    July 29, 2009 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  10. ROBERT

    GOP may need an exorcism to return to sanity.

    July 29, 2009 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  11. Carol

    I think this Health Care Reform Bill Is going to be just like The first Stimilus Package. Many things are going to be added right before this President Signs the Bill. Look what happened to the banking system, Look what happened to G.M. America this President wants many things to be hidden from the American People, so he writes things and has others ad the rest so we as Americans do not have the Freedom we once enjoyed. Hes doing to many things underhanded. I wonder what this World of Ours is coming to. Pretty sad when a President can tell the President of G.M to step down. We might all have to move to Russia pretty soon.

    July 29, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  12. Frank

    But I thought that the Obama health care plan had already failed and that his presidency was crumbling around his ample ears.

    Or did I just hear that on TV?

    July 29, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  13. twitwits are the new nitwits

    This bill better get done and done right or they will end up on milk cartons.

    July 29, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  14. Bev

    There is no bigger danger to our economy than this healthcare bill. It SCREAMS fraud. Every weazle in politics is going to put their hooks in this bill and grab every dime they can squeeze out of it. That's why the Democrats want to rush it through congress. We should be focused on JOBS. Not green jobs for minorities that last 6 months. We should be supporting small businesses and encouraging our economy to grow. This president is driving our country into a socialist nightmare and the American people need to wake up and realize what he is doing. If Cap and Trade and Healthcare reform are forced on the American people you can kiss goodbye our quality of life.

    July 29, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  15. Bev

    ECONOMICS 101: You do not spend your way out of debt. Period. You do not spend trillions of dollars on social experiments to build an economy. You do not quadruple the deficit in the middle of a recession. The American people are about to learn a very hard lesson. They apparently forgot the lessons of Jimmy Carter's policies. Take all your bills and quadruple them, increase the cost of living 25% and then quit your job and see what quality of life you have. That's what the American people are about to face if Cap and Trade and Healthcare reform are passed by our government.

    July 29, 2009 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  16. Johnnie T Martin

    Those so called Blue Dogs are not Dem's and I hope all real Democrates let them know that next year.
    They want nothing but to be reelected, They could care less about anyone's health care. They have the best care in the world. The have the government offered option. They have nothing to worry about. They make me sick on my stomach and I don't have insurance anywhere near as good as theirs.
    They need to run as the Republicans they are and real Democrates need to make sure they are not reelected.
    We Democrates , don't want anyythng they have to offer.
    Go away you fakes. You changed parties last time just to get elected.

    July 29, 2009 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  17. MEL IN florida

    Coverage for pre-existing conditions. affordable coverage, for individual and bussiness. Yes we need this. Thank you President Barack Obama

    July 29, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  18. Reformed Republican

    Why no mention of the public option?
    Have the dems bailed on the need for it?
    No public option means higher and higher premiums and higher and higher taxes to pay for the out of control rising costs in Medicare and Medicaid.
    Remember folks, it's "Pay a little now or pay billions more later" and even worse – "I can't afford to pay for heath insurance".
    Your choice America.
    Besides, I've got my public option already – I'm a vet and quite pleased with what the VA does for me...

    July 29, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  19. Wow

    Obama is getting things done. Last week they said it was impossible-today they have reached a deal. That's what a little motivation will do to you. Obama has my vote in 2012.

    July 29, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  20. Uncle Fester

    I told you they would reach a deal. Obamas administation ( Chicago Gangsters ) strong armed the blue dogs! Now the country will pay! Do you really think Obama has read the 1100 pages of the health care bill? He goes around the country telling the people what his advisers want him to say. He doesn't know whats in the bill no more than I do!!!

    July 29, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  21. Mark in Miami

    We shall see if this is a version that the public will support. If not, the politicians will have to go back to the drawing board. They need to put forth a bill that will not put us deeper into a financial hole.

    July 29, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  22. Randy

    I'm glad we got something done, I hope they haven't hamstrung the bill so that it is worse than what we have now, although I think it would be difficult to do that – what we have now SUCKS!.

    I am very disappointed that the debate isn't open and above board. let's hear the 10 items they wanted changed.

    July 29, 2009 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  23. David

    The fix, as it is, is the true catastrophe.

    July 29, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  24. John

    This is still a bad bad bad deal. I support more affordable health care options but not with government owned plans. They will fail at this just as every thing else they try to do. They fail at social security, They fail at medicaire. They fail at the tax system.
    They need to attack the costs first. The Tort system needs a major overhaul. Mal practice needs adjusted. Competition across state and international lines for services, instruments and pharmaceuticals should be the focus.
    They have the cart in front of the horse!

    July 29, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  25. Pat F

    The Democrats can bend over and kiss their control of Congress, the Supreme Court and the White House good-bye if this monster gets signed into law.

    So SIGN IT, BARRY, SIGN IT! And then start house-hunting. Maybe Chris Dodd can get you a cheap mortgage.

    July 29, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
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