Article: Liberals protest Pelosi's comments on health deal (The Hill)

Liberals protest Pelosi's comments on health deal
By Mike Soraghan
Posted: 08/04/09 12:01 PM [ET]

The leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus have formally protested House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's comments about their efforts to undo concessions she gave to centrist Blue Dog Democrats on the healthcare bill.
In a session with reporters Friday, Pelosi (D-Calif.) said, “Are you asking me, 'Are progressives going to vote against universal, quality, affordable healthcare for all Americans?'? No way.” Her directness elicited laughter in the room.
Progressive Caucus Co-Chairwoman Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) said Monday she was unhappy at the idea that liberals were being "laughed at" and not taken seriously.
Along with Co-Chairman Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Woolsey penned a letter to Pelosi on Tuesday saying, "We are concerned with the statements made regarding the progressives."
The letter stresses that 60 members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Congressional Black Caucus, Congressional Hispanic Caucus and Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus have signed a letter opposing the deal leadership made with several Blue Dogs on the Energy and Commerce Committee.
They say the deal weakens the government-run "public plan" by raising reimbursement rates for providers, therefore making it more expensive for patients. They also object to cutting subsidies intended to make premiums more affordable. They want the subsidies restored and they want reimbursement rates tied to Medicare rates.
"The final bill brought to the House Floor must include these provisions or we will oppose the bill," says Tuesday's letter, signed by the two Progressive Caucus leaders.
The letter also rejects Pelosi's explanation that the public option under the Blue Dog plan is essentially the same as the public option crafted in the Senate by Sen. Edward Kennedy's (D-Mass.) Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
"The House can and must do better," the letter says.
A spokesman for Pelosi said Monday that the Speaker, who is a longtime member of the Progressive Caucus, does take the group’s concerns seriously.
“It is clear from the story that the Speaker’s reaction was in response to the notion that progressives would reject universal, quality, affordable healthcare for all,” said spokesman Nadeam Elshami. “Progressives, including the Speaker, have long supported that goal. The Progressive Caucus continues to play a major role in shaping that legislation, which the Speaker agrees must include a vigorous public option to help reduce healthcare costs for the American people.”