Waxman Postpones Health Markup Amid Liberal Backlash

Posted July 29, 2009 at 4:16pm

House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) postponed the health bill markup that he planned to hold Wednesday afternoon amid a backlash from liberals to the deal that he cut earlier with four conservative Blue Dog Democrats.Waxman told reporters that he intended to keep meeting with committee Democrats on Wednesday night, resume the markup Thursday and still finish the bill Friday.“[Energy and Commerce Democrats] have a lot of questions about the legislation, and I think it’s more important that we sit in the Democratic Caucus and let people ask questions, get answers, hear each other out,— Waxman said.Waxman’s deal with the Blue Dogs, backed by House leaders and the White House, cuts more than $100 billion from the bill, prevents a new public option from using Medicare rates to reimburse providers and exempts small businesses with a payroll of less than $500,000 from a new employer mandate, among other changes.The weakening of the public option incensed some liberal Members, with Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chairwoman Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) declaring she would vote against it.“It has to be much stronger to get our support,— Woolsey said after a meeting with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who tried to sell them on the deal. Woolsey said progressives fear that without using Medicare rates, the public option will not be able to hold down costs and force savings from private insurance companies. She said that was “great for the insurance companies— and would allow them to keep doing business as usual.Woolsey said members of her caucus would meet at 6 p.m. to discuss their response to the deal.“We’ve got a long way to go before this gets to the House floor,— Woolsey said.