Archive for July 22, 2009

Can Blue Dogs Learn New Tricks?

The Coalition of 52 conservative “Blue Dog” Democrats in the House of Representatives has emerged as a potential roadblock to passage of a health care reform bill in the House of Representatives. There are eight Blue Dogs on the Energy and Commerce Committee, the remaining House Committee with jurisdiction over health care to vote on the bill before it goes to the floor of the House for a vote.  Concerns raised by seven of the eight Blue Dogs about the health care bill have caused the Committee to delay its consideration of the pending legislation. What makes the Blue Dogs’ resistance so fascinating is not their politics, but rather their constituents.

In the 111th Congress there are 48 Congressional districts that were won by John McCain in the election but that are represented by a Democrat in the House.  Most of these districts are rural, blue collar areas.  Blue Dog Democrats represent most of them. On July 10th 2009 Gallup released their study of every Congressional district on “Health and Well Being”. One of the questions asked in this survey was whether citizens had health insurance.  The median uninsured population of all Congressional districts is 14.6%.  Of the 48 Districts won by McCain, 31 (roughly two-thirds) have numbers of uninsured well above the national median.

Take for example the districts of four Blue Dogs who are on the Energy and Commerce Committee: Charlie Melancon D-LA (21.9% Uninsured), Mike Ross D-AR (21.8% Uninsured), Bart Gordon D-TN (17.3% Uninsured) and Zachary Space D-OH (16.8% Uninsured). The House and Senate proposals are meant to assist these rural poor districts by directing the Institute of Medicine to study geographic inequities in Medicare reimbursement rates, and instructing the Health and Human Services Secretary to revise payment rates based on the findings. The bill even ensures that rural doctors are paid the same rate for their work as urban doctors. Yet, Health reform’s biggest obstacle might just be the representatives of those who need, and will benefit from, reform the most.

Can’t anyone teach these Blue Dogs new tricks?

July 22, 2009 at 4:37 pm 2 comments


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