Blue Dogs press Obama on healthcare costs

Blue Dog Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee discussed their concerns about the cost of healthcare reform during a White House meeting with President Obama.

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Rep. Mike Ross (D-Ark.), a Blue Dog who has led the charge to reduce the bill’s costs, said after the meeting that “no final decisions have been made.” He said he and others want to wait for the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to score the bill and potential cost-cutting measures.

Ross said the president laid out what he wants to see in healthcare legislation, including that it be deficit-neutral. House members discussed “about 10 issues we're concerned with,” he said. “Obviously, cost-cutting is first on that list,” Ross said.

Ross said the Democrats met with the president and his staff for about an hour, but the members were at the White House for more than two and a half hours. They left abruptly and returned to Capitol Hill after Ross and Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) made brief statements to reporters. The two did not take questions.

Waxman agreed with Ross that the entire committee — not just the Blue Dogs — “have great concern on the cost of the legislation.”

“That is a view that is not just theirs, but ours as well,” Waxman said.

In a statement before the meeting, Obama largely blamed Republicans for holding up legislation in the House.