AND THEN THERE WERE FIVE…. Following up on an item from this morning, if the House is going to pass health care reform, proponents are going to need to convince some lawmakers who voted against it in November to support it now. The “no to yes” push is absolutely critical.
Wednesday, we saw our first switch (Ohio’s Dennis Kucinich). Thursday, we learned of two more (Tennessee’s Bart Gordon and Colorado’s Betsy Markey). This morning, a fourth made the switch (Ohio’s John Boccieri), and this afternoon, Blue Dog Rep. Allen Boyd (D) of Florida became the fifth.
The Monticello Democrat said he studied the revised bill and the Congressional Budget Office report on its costs and benefits. He said “it’s not perfect” but that the package meets the four criteria he set forth in a series of 16 meetings across the 2nd Congressional District last summer.
Boyd said the overall plan will preserve patient choice of insurance plans and doctors, will improve access to coverage for about 50 million Americans and will be “deficit-neutral.” The fourth criteria, slowing the rise of medical costs, was the main thing that caused him to vote against the bill a few months ago, but Boyd said he thinks the new version will do that.
Boyd said 194,000 households in North Florida will be eligible to get coverage through insurance exchanges. He said small-business tax credits will benefit 15,400 businesses in his district, which runs from the Suwannee-Columbia County line to the southeastern corner of Okaloosa County.
“My decision has been based from the very beginning on the substance of this policy,” said Boyd. “It’s been my belief that good policy equals good politics.”
Boyd, it’s worth noting, has long been one of the caucus’ most conservative Dems, and five years ago, he was the only House Dem to express support for the Bush Social Security privatization plan. This year, he’s facing a primary challenger, who’s emphasized Boyd’s vote against health care reform last November.
His endorsement of the reform plan, then, is a pretty big deal, and gives the legislation another boost at a key time.
Also this afternoon:
* Rep. Joseph Cao (R-La.) told CNN, “Right now, I’m a firm no.” The first half of that sentence doesn’t really match the second, but I’d be surprised if he supports the bill when the roll is called.
* Rep. Tom Periello (D-Va.) voted for reform in November, and officially announced his continued support today. He’s been under intense pressure to switch, and his decision comes as a relief to the leadership.
* Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) has repeatedly said he’s undecided, but told MSNBC earlier that he’s “leaning much more in favor now that the CBO score is out.”
* Reps. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.) and Dina Titus (D-Nev.) both voted for reform in November, but were considered on the fence now. Both said today they will support the bill.
* Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), a key pro-life Democratic vote, has been leaning “no,” but now appears to be leaning “yes.”
* Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass), in an unusually ridiculous display that puts his career in jeopardy, voted “yes” in November, but has dug in his heels as a “no” now.
* Rep. Heath Shuler (D-Tenn.) was a “no” and is still a “no.”
* Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) has been a solid “yes,” but is having a freak-out over a Medicare reimbursement provision in the sidecar, and is threatening to vote “no.” The leadership thinks it’ll work out with him.
Am I missing anyone?