During a conference call with reporters on Thursday, Rep. Pete Stark, D-Calif., chairman of the Ways and Means health subcommittee, suggested that Blue Dog Democrats "just want to cause trouble" when it comes to the changes they have sought in pending health care legislation, the Associated Press reports.
"'They're for the most part, I hate to say, brain dead, but they're just looking to raise money from insurance companies and promote a right-wing agenda that is not really very useful in this whole process,' Stark told reporters on a conference call … hosted by the liberal group Campaign for America's Future. The call marked the release of a report by that group, which makes "the case for a strong new public health insurance plan to compete with private insurers as part of any health overhaul legislation," the AP writes.
Though "Stark's Ways and Means Committee passed a version of the bill with Medicare-style rates [for a public plan]," in "the Energy and Commerce Committee, Blue Dogs pushed successfully for changes that would have a public plan with payment rates negotiated by the Health and Human Services secretary. The Blue Dogs said this would mean fairer rates to providers but Stark and others say it would be more expensive to the government and costlier to patients. The final form of the public plan in the House bill remains to be determined," an issue that will be taken up once Congress returns from its summer recess (Werner, 8/27).