More Lunkheads Can't Stand the Heat
Blue Dog Democrats have reached a deal with House leadership. Public option remains intact. According to Brian Beutler at TPM, what the conservative Dems got in return are these things:
1) No House vote until September. This part sucks because it gives Republicans an entire month to bash the plan. The good news is that the Waxman Committee will vote a bill out this week. So by the time recess is done, there should be a bill ready to vote on.
2) The version favored by House leadership exempted small businesses from penalties for not covering their employees if their total payroll was less than $250,000. The compromise with Blue Dogs doubles that amount to $500k, allowing many more businesses free to leave their employees uncovered and not having to pay into the public system.
3) Instead of tying payment rates to Medicare, the government's public option will negotiate pay schedules separately through the Secretary of HHS.
4) Individuals whose income falls between 300 and 400% of the poverty rate - hence eligible for government subsidy for health coverage under the House plan - will receive a slightly smaller subsidy, potentially saving taxpayers, Beutler reports, $100 billion according to Blue Dogs.