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Energy and Commerce Panel Dives Back Into Health Bill Markup

The House Energy and Commerce Committee resumed its epic markup of the health care overhaul Thursday night, with leaders confident that they would ultimately win the votes of liberals who had warned earlier in the day that they might oppose a deal cut with moderate-to-conservative Blue Dog Democrats.“I think we’ll be fine,— said Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), the chairman of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health. “I think it’s working out well.—But Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) wasn’t ready to declare victory. “We have work to do,— he said.Pallone is a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, whose leaders have vowed to try to kill the Blue Dog deal to slice $100 billion from the bill and restrict a public insurance option from using rates based on Medicare. At last check, 56 Democrats had signed on to a letter vowing to vote down a bill containing the Blue Dog deal.But Pallone defended the deal with the Blue Dogs, arguing that it creates a path that could unite the Caucus and lead to a public option emerging from the final deal with the Senate.Pallone said part of the problem with the “robust— public option sought by liberals is ensuring that doctors and other providers sign up. He added that giving the secretary of Health and Human Services flexibility to increase rates beyond Medicare rates would make the plan more attractive.“I think it’s actually good language,— he said.