Details are still sketchy, but it appears as if the compromise reached between Energy and Commerce Chair Henry Waxman and Blue Dog health task force leader Mike Ross is not bad. What is interesting is what the Blue Dogs wanted.
Recall that the supposed entire reason for being of this caucus is “fiscal conservatism.” So it might surprise you to learn that the Blue Dogs’ chief demand was increasing the public option reimbursement rates to health care providers, otherwise known as doctors and hospitals. Medicare rates, they claimed, were too low.
Increasing reimbursement rates? Doesn’t that mean, you know, spending more money? Well…er…yes. This once again demonstrates that the Blue Dog position is pretty incoherent.
But have no fear: the Blue Dogs had a solution to this undermining of the supposed central tenet of their philosophy: reduce the subsidies for families making between 300-400% of the official poverty line. For a family of four, the poverty line is about $22,000, so that means that the Blue Dogs went out of their way to reduce subsidies for families making between $66,000 and $88,000 a year. This change appears to have allowed the bill to “save money” even though it increases reimbursements.
In other words, in order to pay hospitals and doctors more, the Blue Dogs decided to take money away from middle-class families.
I suppose that’s what it means to be a conservative nowadays: protect corporate hospital chains and wealthy doctors (who average roughly $150,000 a year nationwide) and (assuming two wage-earners) screw nurses, teachers, secretaries, and construction workers. Edmund Burke and Michael Oakeshott, call your offices.