Can Blue Dogs Learn New Tricks?

July 22, 2009 at 4:37 pm 2 comments

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?

Entry filed under: Health Care Reform.

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Cheryl  |  July 23, 2009 at 10:55 pm

    Thank goodness for Blue Dogs. As a Medicare Beneficiary, I know that Medicare doesn’t cover enough, and the quality of care is almost non-existent. Many of us on Medicare go without care, because the care we get is just as bad as it is for those who do not have insurance at all. I don’t mind going without, as I already am going without on Medicare, but to further damage the country with this so-called reform only confirms that it is Obama–and his followers–that are obtuse.

  • 2. Ann  |  August 6, 2009 at 12:54 am

    Horay for the Blue Dogs heeding to what their constituents wants. Yes, I agree that Medicare needs changes and Advantage Care is costly and does not work very well. I work in Social Services and what is driving cost is Medicaid. We have 63 million people on it and less on medicare. The largest percentage of people that does not have Insurance does not want to pay they want the Government to pay and that is my tax dollar. Yes, the gap for people that has a pre-existing condition do need health care and also the people on SSDI they have to wait 2 years before they can get Medicare. The people on Medicaid also gets more services that those on Medicare. These are some of the areas that need reform not one pay plan that Obama and the Democrats want to pass after all if it is not good enough for them than it is not good enough for We the People.


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