The fate of health-care reform hangs on what President Obama and leading Democrats do in the next few weeks. In particular, it hinges on an effective response to moderate Democrats in the House -- known as "Blue Dogs" -- who are threatening to jump ship.
Yet the Blue Dogs have mostly ignored the huge benefits of a new public plan for their districts. They have also largely ignored the disproportionate benefits promised by new federal subsidies for low- and medium-income workers. Right now, large swaths of farmers, ranchers and self-employed workers can barely afford a policy in the individual market or are uninsured. They will benefit greatly from the premium assistance in the House legislation promised for workers whose earnings are up to 400 percent of the poverty line, from additional subsidies for small businesses to cover their workers, and from a new national purchasing pool, or "exchange," giving those employers access to low-cost group health insurance that's now out of reach.
There's a lot of pressure being placed on the Blue Dogs, there are quite a few articles out there taking them to task in addition to the one above, another example from the New York Daily News. Even with the new numbers from the CBO, this Washington Times article points out what the Blue Dogs are worried about:
Blue Dogs have said they won't support a public health insurance option that is based on Medicare rates. They say Medicare rates are not distributed evenly and put their rural areas at a disadvantage.
They're also concerned that small businesses are going to be hit too hard by the "pay or play" requirement. And Blue Dogs say the shape of the bill doesn't do enough to limit the rising costs of health care.
It's interesting that some of the Democrats are saying they don't need the Blue Dogs, if they really didn't need them, there wouldn't be so much pressure to get them to agree...