July 24th, 2009
02:28 PM ET
11 years ago

House Democrats splinter over health care

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

Filed under: Health care • House Democrats
soundoff (36 Responses)

    I'm with Rep. Mike Ross, although Obama's deathcare plan should be junked. It can deny coverage to senior citizens, and requires mandatory "end of life" counseling every 5 years if you are on medicare. That, my friend, is evil. And Waxman is a dip.

    July 24, 2009 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  2. Chris

    The American taxpayers expect, no demand, lower health care costs and better health care costs. We don't expect to pay for people who refuse to work, we don't expect to pay extrememely high charges so every health care person can live in million dollar homes, and we certainly don't expect it to cost more. If we're all in this together why wouldn't it cost less just as when comparing myself with individual insurance against a company with 500 employees, why with 400 million people shouldn't it cost much, much less per individual? Also, if it's so good, why don't all government officials (including Pelosi and Obam) be in on the same good program?

    July 24, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  3. Donna from Colorado Springs

    Why does the opposition want the process to slow down? What are they so afraid of? Do they worry that if people actually listen to what the president is saying about healthcare reform, that something might actually get done? What they really want is to kill everything like they always have in the past. They work on those in congress who aren't totally convinced one way or the other yet, and they break down their defenses. The Republicans will lie and tell those who haven't made up their minds yet anything and everything they can to change their minds! Are we that mindless as to listen to the Republican party again? Did we learn nothing from the past? Healthcare reform has been destroyed by them before, and they're trying to have history repeat itself.

    July 24, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  4. Pragmatic

    Democracy is debate and discussion – wish there was a little more inclination to compromise ... but I prefer the rough and tumble style of the Democrats to that of the robotic Republicans – voting as told – no independent thinking allowed or Rush kicks you out of the party ...

    July 24, 2009 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  5. Lisa

    The health care system in America is beyond disgusting! It is one of the top 5 reasons I now live in Canada. I pay $54 per month for health care in British Columbia and because I am employed, my employer pays the $54. When I lived in America, if I was out of work for a few months, I paid anywhere from $300-$600 per month. Gee...which system is better? And as far as the baloney that Canadians have to wait years to see a specialist...that is just not true...wait times are getting longer and longer in the States. I was referred to a specialist here in Canada within 2 weeks!!!! WAKE UP AMERICA!

    July 24, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  6. tom from los angeles

    waxman is an idiot. because he thinks this will empower rep's he is willing to jump into this whole thing quickly. I am canadian and have been living here for 12 years. I believe this health care plan will fail and cost the tax payers billions of $$$.

    July 24, 2009 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  7. Mike in MN

    Pelosi should keep forcing the Blue Dogs to vote for her liberal agenda. That way the Blue Dogs will be voted out and replaced by Republicans in 2010 and Republicans take back the House. And then Pelosi can say good by to being Speaker of the House. That would be beautiful.

    July 24, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  8. Henry Miller

    All this just demonstrates that people like Waxman simply don't care if they bankrupt the country. This seems to me to be just a little short of treason.

    July 24, 2009 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  9. Reformed Republican

    These wimpy "blue dogs" sound like obstructionist rethugs to me. Must be on the health care industry payroll under the table. In the mean time 14.000 plus working middle class Americans are losing their helath insurance becasue they can't aford it and we don't have a Publid Option as a safety net.
    Hey America – If health care reform fails we can get even – vote these Mini-Me rethuglican "blue dogs" out of office!

    July 24, 2009 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  10. voice of reason

    These losers that whine about slowing down on Health Care Reform are probably the same slackers that are currently not working and leeching off the hard earned money of conservative democrats and republicans that carry these loosers through life on our backs like a cancer. Soon enough, we'll stop being kind hearted enough to lug these guys through life. We should start right here by saying no to another free loading program like obama's Health Care reform

    July 24, 2009 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  11. Steve

    Democrats always turn on their own and ultimately demolish any progress.

    July 24, 2009 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
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