Back in Home Districts, Much-Wooed Blue Dogs Not Barking for Health Care Reform Legislation

The 52 members of the House Blue Dog Caucus of moderate to conservative Democrats are, like most other members of Congress, back in their home districts.

Members of this group -- targeted by House Democratic leadership, the White House, and special interest groups -- has largely been non-committal in public statements about whether or not they will vote for the health care reform legislation that ends of up on the floor of the House.

But despite efforts by Congressional leaders and the White House to make the legislation more palatable to them -- by, perhaps, eliminating, the public health care option, or imposing more Medicare cuts -- many of these members of Congress have sounded more skeptical of the bill as of late, according to local media reports.

Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Miss., at a town hall meeting in Moss Point Monday night, said, per the Associated Press, "I would hope that everyone in this room knows by now that I am not going to vote for the health care plan."

Says Rep. Jim Marshall, D-Ga., according to the Gwinnett Daily Post, "As the bill stands right now, I would have to vote 'no' until we get a better handle on the costs. I am adamantly opposed to throwing more money at the current system."

During a town hall teleconference Tuesday night, Rep. Travis Childers, D-Miss., said "he would not vote for a House health care reform bill in its current form," a Memphis TV station reports.

Rep. Charlie Melancon, D-Louisiana, said "it's appearing more likely that he’ll break with his party and oppose President Barack Obama’s controversial health-care plan should it come to a vote on the House floor," reports Houma Today.

Melancon said he is "still concerned about how the bill, in its current form, will affect individuals and small businesses in south Louisiana. Patient choice comes from competition in the marketplace, and I am concerned that the public option, as designed, would unfairly undercut anything the private sector could offer.”

“As someone who is personally pro-life and represents a deeply pro-life constituency, I am also concerned that this bill does not do enough to ensure taxpayer dollars do not fund abortion,” Melancon said. “I am also concerned about the creation of an unelected health czar."

Rep. Walt Minnick, D-Id., is described in the Idaho Mountain Express as flatly opposing the Democrats' health care reform bill.

"The government should set the rules of the road and then let private business do the work," he said.

In the Tarheel State, Rep. Heath Shuler, D-NC, said during a telephone town hall meeting, per the Citizen-Times, "that he opposes the House health care reform legislation because it would increase the deficit, doesn't reduce the overall cost of health care and doesn't do enough to promote people living healthier lives… 'I do not support HR3200 at the present time,' Shuler said...emphasizing that the current legislation does not do enough to promote wellness, prevention and disease management. Nor is enough being done to eliminate waste, fraud and abuse in Medicare and Medicaid, he said."

Radio Iowa reports that Rep. Leonard Boswell, D-Iowa, said that while "we haven't seen the final (bill) and you know it's very likely, it's very possible -- I'm not going to say 'likely' because I want this to move forward -- it's very possible it could be something I can't vote for."

At a town hall meeting in Moskogee, Oklahoma, Rep. Dan Boren, D-Okla., was concise: "I am a no vote,” he said, according to The Oklahoman.

The Dothan Eagle reports that Rep. Bobby Bright, D-Ala., "said he still plans to vote against any of the five versions of the health care reform bill circulating through the House and Senate unless significant changes are made."

Reflecting a concern that House Democrats will vote for a far more liberal bill than the Senate will eventually take up -- thus imperiling their re-election chances for no good reason -- Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., told the Arizona Star that the House should vote on legislation similar to what the Senate is going to pass.

"I don't think that something should be brought to the house floor that is not very similar to what's going to be passed in the Senate," Giffords said. "So I think that a lot of work needs to be done, and I think the administration is working on that right now present a situation where you have lawmakers such as myself voting on a bill that will never become law. And right now HR 3200 will not become law."

Rep. Parker Griffith, D-Al., who opposes the public health care option, says he needs more details before he can sign off on the co-op notion being floated by the Senate.

"It depends on how it's worded and how it's structured," Griffith said Monday, according to the Huntsville Times.

Back in the land of Buckeyes, Rep. Zack Space, D-Ohio, boasted of changes Blue Dogs made to the House bill in the Energy and Commerce Committee, says the Wheeling News-Register. The revamped legislation will "mandate that public insurance be subject to the same fees and taxes paid by private insurers. ‘If the public plan were tying rates to Medicare, it would not have to charge as much for premiums and would force private plans out of business,’ Space said. ‘We didn't want to see that. So we fought hard against that. If they take it out of bill, they're losing my support.’”

His Buckeye colleague Rep. Charles Wilson, D-Ohio, sounded more supportive in The Vindicator, saying, “If we don’t do some health-care reform to help get better where we are, our nation is going to suffer. ... It’s a big project but one that we need to do. We just feel that the reform has been long-needed, and it’s time to push it forward.”

Said Rep. John Tanner, D-Tenn., according to the Commercial Appeal, "most reasonable, sensible people realize that we've got some holes in the current delivery system that are resulting in inefficiency, duplication, nonproductive ... provider-to-patient expenditures, and what I've been telling people is we need to figure that out before we start overturning the entire system...I think we need to take a deep breath and go at this thing incrementally."

In his home district in the Panhandle, Rep. Allen Boyd, D-Florida, held up a copy of the bill passed by the Energy and Commerce Committee and said, according to CNN, "I cannot support this bill in the version it is in now. We can do better. We can make it better."


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