August 16th, 2009
03:08 PM ET
13 years ago

Conservative Democrat gets The Last Word

WASHINGTON (CNN) – A member of the Democratic Blue Dog Coalition, a group of more moderate to conservative Democrats in the House of Representatives, predicted Sunday that the version of health care reform legislation currently being hashed out by bipartisan negotiators in the Senate Finance Committee will come to dominate the reform debate.

Related video: Ross holds town hall, gets standing ovation

“At the end of the day, there’s going to have to be some common ground here,” Rep. Mike Ross of Arkansas said on CNN’s State of the Union, when asked about viability of a public insurance option in any reform legislation.

“The reality is that it takes sixty percent to get this done in the Senate. It’s probably going to have to be bipartisan in the Senate – which I think it should be,” Ross said.

“I know that a lot of members of my party in the House don’t want to hear this,” said Ross, but “my guess is about 90 percent [of the final bill presented to the White House] will be reflected from what’s in the Senate Finance Committee bill.”

Ross also took the opportunity to lay down his guiding principles for health care reform.

Related: Ross responds to RNC in radio ad

“I will not support a health care reform bill that is not deficit-neutral. Period,” Ross told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King.

“I will not force government-run health care on anyone; if there ever is government-run health care, the first ones to sign up should be the president and every member of Congress, including myself; You should be able to keep the insurance you’ve got today if you like it and always choose your own doctor; no federal funding for illegal immigrants or for abortion; and no rationing of health care."

In an apparent reference to a controversial - and sometimes misinterpreted –provision providing Medicare reimbursement for end-of-life counseling in a House version of health care reform legislation, Ross also said, “I will never vote for a bill to kill old people. Period.”

Related: Say goodnight, grandpa

Ross, and a few other Blue Dogs, used their positions on the House Energy and Commerce Committee to extract concessions from fellow Democrats that lowered the total price tag of the committee’s bill while providing some protection for the reimbursements received by rural hospitals in some Blue Dogs’ districts. The concessions agreed to by the House Democratic leadership triggered concern by more liberal members of the party, including the Congressional Black Caucus, over whether the committee’s version of the bill went far enough to provide enough coverage for those who currently don’t have health insurance.

Related: Health care in America

Filed under: Health care • Mike Ross • State of the Union
soundoff (98 Responses)
  1. Voted4HealthCare

    The final bill should be the one from Congressman Ross' committee that includes reasonable concessions for a public option and a small business exemption.

    The bill in the Senate Finanace Committee is too watered down just to appease Republicans that have NO intention on voting for the bill. Enough of the nonsense.

    Americans voted for REAL health-care reforms for our country.

    August 16, 2009 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  2. Susan

    Oops, he's a Blue Dog..well, they are saying much of the same thing...sorry!

    August 16, 2009 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  3. Steve NY

    I admire Rep Ross position. First congressman that I know is listening to the people and represents the people.
    The alternative to his recommendation about Congress joining the Government plan is us joining the Congress's plan that they have today, that we are paying for. Why should they and Pres Obama be previliged to have a better plan than us. I can't understand why the people are not pressuring to join their golden plan. They probably don't even pay a monthly premium. I'm surpised that nobody brings this up during the Town Hall meetings.
    By joining their plan, it would solve all this bickering going on.

    August 16, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  4. Grrr-awful-o

    "There will be competition with private insurers..." meaning there will be a public (government) plan in competion with private insurers.

    So let's see... the government has a gov't insurance plan... and gets to make up the laws and regulations and gets to assess the tax burden on all the players involved... and gets to dictate the terms under which the insurance companies and all of us who are covered by insurance have to live with... and they get to set the reimbursement rates for each kind of diagnosis...

    Hmmm, I wonder how well the private insurance companies will do and how long they will last? And I wonder how many people will go into medicine in the future if the government decides how much salary is too much salary... ditto for pharmaceutical companies: if it doesn't pay to develop expensive medicines (some cost upwards of a billion dollars!) I wonder if they'll stop developing the most expensive ones... Guess we'll find out...

    August 16, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  5. Eric

    Hey you 47 million uninsured people... too bad, the profits of insurance companies is more important than your well being. It's okay to spend twice as much money to invade a country for no reason than it is to take care of our own sick people without a profit. Disgusting.

    August 16, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  6. Darth Vadik, CA

    No, you blue dog traitor of a democrat, you won't support a bill that would "kill" old people (GOP propaganda lies), but I'm sure you supported the killing of young American people in IRAQ.

    Why do you even call yourself a Democrat?

    August 16, 2009 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  7. Bludgeon

    Well, bully for you, Mike Ross! And where exactly did you think HR 3200 said anything about killing old people? On pp. 325-329 where it talks about advance directives and living wills and getting counseling and information on these paid for by the plan on a voluntary basis at age 65 and each five years thereafter? Counseling not from a government bureaucrat, but from your own doctor! Now that Betsy McCaughey's lies on this have been debunked by every objective source, they are going to remove the "death panels" from the bill? They were never there IN THE FIRST PLACE!

    August 16, 2009 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  8. R Wolf

    Why do you even call yourself a democrat? Just join that other party. We don't need you in ours.

    August 16, 2009 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  9. Mike

    Dear Congressman Ross, you already have Federal, Govt. run health care. I think it works well for you. Can I sign up members of my family who cannot afford health care and are on the edge of going under because of it? My mother has govt run health care, Medicare, and it is the best thing that has happened to her in 20 years. She suffered chronic problems for years, but never received the care she needed until she reached 65 and qualified.

    I would also hope you would never vote to kill old people, but, I am confused... What bill in COngress calls for killing old people? Your statement is disingenuous fear-mongering. I would expect better from an educated member of congress. Please stop spreading the lies.

    This country has mediocre health care given our wealth. The whole system is predicated on generating $$$ for industry, not providing people with quality care. We spend more and get less than several other well developed countries. If the people of this country were told the truth, and valued their health more so than the profits for insurance, hospitals, and pharma, they would want a different system.

    Keep up the good propaganda!

    August 16, 2009 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  10. Rosie

    You are done Rep Ross. You will not be re-elected, and I doubt if you ever get any more money from unions. You might get repug votes, but real democrats will not help get you re-elected.

    August 16, 2009 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  11. Mark Baker

    "“I will never vote for a bill to kill old people. Period.”

    Uhhmm did this guy even read the drafts of the healthcare reform. Where does it say kill old people?

    August 16, 2009 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  12. Pass Health Bill

    From what Barack Obama said in the town hall in CO, Medicare/MedicAid does have the same stipulation in it so technically this is not anything new. Did Mr. Ross vote for the Medicare/MedicAid Bill. CNN how about you tell the public what is in Medicare/MedicAid bill to allow people to know some facts?

    August 16, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  13. Dawn Ada, Ohio

    NO ONE is saying to force government run health care on anyone!!!! We want a PUBLIC OPTION!!!!

    August 16, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  14. Alta Ifland

    So Mike Ross isn't going to vote for a bill that "kills old people." How generous of him! Maybe instead of talking about science fiction scenarios he should tell us what he thinks about a system–the one we have NOW in the richest country on earth– in which millions of people like me are denied a fundamental human right: the right to health care. And I even have health insurance–a so-called "catastrophic" insurance for which I pay thousands of dollars in exchange for NOTHING. This is the only country on earth where one can pay thousands of dollars for a "health insurance" that would help them only if they are about to die. Maybe we should call it a "death insurance." I wonder if people with this kind of "insurance" are counted as "insured" in the current statistics.

    Alta Ifland

    August 16, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  15. Roger

    Its ironic they have used "killing" the old people to scare against a goverment sponsered health care but its the old people you ARE on a goverment sponser health care system? I say we do AWAY with ALL goverment sponsered health care no medicare, no medicaid, no V.A. free medical care.

    August 16, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  16. Carl Justus

    I say find out who has bought him with campaign contributions. I do not understand how any one with an ounce of brains would say the health care reform bill will deny care for anyone especially the elderly when it the same kind of consultation has been introduced twice by republicans and now they are ones who say we are going tio kill the old and the infirm regardless of age.

    They are liars, and know they are liars, but they have to give the insurance industry a massive profit for the campaign contributions and who knows what else.

    There should be a law that no one running for any office of any kind can accept any campaign contributions from anyone outside the district, ward, area or the bounds of those that can vote for them. THEN WE WILL SEE REAL ACCOUNTABLILITY AND NOT ONE CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTION BEFORE,

    August 16, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  17. T'SAH from Virginia

    Repetition is a GREAT THING ... You hear the same thing over and over again

    "...You should be able to keep the insurance... choose your own doctor; no federal funding for illegal immigrants or for abortion; and no rationing of health care",

    SO WHAT IS THE PROBLEM!!! If this is the way it should be – then let it be!!! EVERYONE in the United States of America knows we need Health Care Reform!!! SO........ do something!!! Jeez!

    August 16, 2009 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  18. Dan

    What a lying slimebag.

    August 16, 2009 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  19. ALittleTruth4U

    He has to speak down to his idiot constituency who has been frightened by the medical and insucance lobby mouthpieces.

    Our country is run by corporate special interests that remain in power because many Americans are so easily manipulated. The wealthiest 1% call all the shots and get their way because it’s so easy to get the ignorant to vote against their own best interests. It astounding to see seniors, who are on Medicare, and people who will likely, at some point, sit frustrated at how they’re going to pay their medical bills, screaming against a solution, the only solution that any politician is offering. Sad, sad, sad.

    August 16, 2009 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  20. DJ

    Please stop the stupidity. Insurance companies decide every single day which people get to live or die based on coverage or whether or not they even want to cover people.

    Can we please try to get the facts straight? How does end of life counseling compare to what the insurance lobbyists do ? The fear-mongering by the GOP will result in blowback yet again.

    August 16, 2009 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  21. Jane/Seattle

    Democrats really need to decide exactly what it is that they stand for or we will have to stand for anything as we already have done so eloquently. Sorry for the borrowing of other's words here. This Republican/NeoCon infiltrating the Dems needs to do what Specter did in reverse. We will either be killed by active genocide, which I posit we already have in a disguised form from the corporate hacks who do it now with government collusion OR we will step it up and just start shooting folks in the streets as the earlier totalitarian regimes have done. I for one am seriously tired of everyone dancing around the subject and never getting to the point. I just got to one point. Join me, Citizens. See if CNN let's this truth fly!

    August 16, 2009 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  22. Ben in Georgia

    Deficit neutral, no killing old people, public OPTION...what's not to like?

    August 16, 2009 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  23. Joyce Becker

    Those who don't have health coverage or oppose it are the only ones that are putting their lives at risk the bill that finally does go through has to have enough health coverage for all who want and need it, the system needs a good over haul for that to happen.

    August 16, 2009 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  24. Bryan

    "Sometimes misinterpreted" legislation........God I love how CNN is so frickin careful to make sure everyone understands Obama. Guess there was nothing to misinterpet in the Bush years.

    August 16, 2009 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  25. cspurgeon

    What idiots. We are going to rob Medicare and give it to the insurance companies...Not what I voted for...

    August 16, 2009 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
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