Speaker Nancy Pelosi is nixing a deal she cut with centrists to advance health reform, said a source familiar with negotiations.
Pelosi’s decision to abandon the agreement that was made with a group of Blue Dogs to get the bill out of committee would steer the healthcare legislation back to the left as she prepares for a floor vote.
Pelosi is planning to include a government-run "public option" in the House version of the healthcare bill. She wants to model it on Medicare, with providers getting reimbursed on a scale pegged to Medicare rates.
"The speaker is full-steam ahead," said a senior Democratic aide.
Blue Dog Democrats, many of whom represent rural districts where Medicare reimbursement rates are low, vehemently oppose tying the public option to Medicare.
Rep. Mike Ross (D-Ark.) and a group of fellow Blue Dogs had negotiated a deal with Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) in July that would remove the link to Medicare. Under that plan, officials with the government-run plan would negotiate individually with providers.
That move, which drew howls of protest from liberal members, prevented the bill from getting stuck in committee. But Ross returned from the August break saying he couldn't support a public option under any circumstances, essentially withdrawing his support for the deal.
Pelosi is now effectively withdrawing her support. In leadership meetings last week, she said the public option in the House bill should be linked to Medicare
A week ago or so some prominent liberal bloggers/journalists cast aspersions on Speaker Pelosi because of some fundraiser she was supposed to attend as if that "proved" she was selling us out on the public option. I hope those people have the decency to come out and admit that they were probably wrong. Especially since the evidence was weak and the allegations were reckless. We have enough irresponsible rhetoric thrown around by the wingnuts, we don't need any more of that kind of stuff coming from friendly fire.