Ross’ reversal on a public option

ROSS’ REVERSAL ON A PUBLIC OPTION…. Just two weeks ago, Rep. Mike Ross (D) of Arkansas, the Blue Dog caucus’ point-man on health care, drew a careful line in the sand. He said he would not vote for a plan that would “force government-run healthcare on anyone. Period.” But he added that the House reform legislation contained a public plan that is “strictly … an option.”

Today, he’s saying something different. Even if the option is optional — I know, this is ridiculous — Ross will oppose giving American consumers the choice.

Key Blue Dog Democratic Rep. Mike Ross (Ark.) pledged to oppose a public (or “government-run”) insurance option in healthcare reform legislation as lawmakers return to Washington on Tuesday.

Ross, the chairman of the centrist Blue Dogs’ healthcare task force, told constituents in a newsletter that he would oppose the controversial provision, one of the key sticking points in the healthcare reform debate.

“A government-run public option is the wrong direction for health reform in this country and I will oppose it in the U.S. Congress,” he wrote.

Ross credited the August recess and his interactions with constituents with leading him to oppose the public plan, about which he had previously expressed a great deal of apprehension.

In case there were any lingering ambiguities, Ross added, “[I]f House leadership presents a final bill that contains a government-run public option, I will oppose it.” Apparently, what the conservative Democrat said two weeks ago is no longer operative.

Let’s also not forget that in July, Ross personally struck a deal with Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) in support of a compromise reform package that included a public option. Indeed, Ross already voted for a plan with a public option when the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved a bill that sent reform to the House floor.

But that was before some right-wing activists yelled at him. Now, Ross’ hard-fought negotiations and his public commitments have been cast aside.