Key Blue Dog Ross will oppose any bill with public option

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.

"I have been skeptical about the public health insurance option from the beginning and used August to get feedback from you, my constituents," Ross said. "An overwhelming number of you oppose a government-run health insurance option and it is your feedback that has led me to oppose the public option as well."

Ross had been at the center of the health debate during House mark-ups of healthcare legislation in late July, leading a small group of centrists against the bill as it had been proposed in the Energy and Commerce committee before winning concessions and allowing the bill to move forward.

"We need a uniquely American solution to our health care crisis, not one based on places like Canada or England," Ross wrote, calling for alternatives to the public option to be put on the table. "However, if House leadership presents a final bill that contains a government-run public option, I will oppose it."

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