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Blue Dogs Backsliding On Anti-Health Care Reform Backsliding

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Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) is "unwavering" in her opposition to a Blue Dog Coalition health care position issued late last week, she said Tuesday. The Blue Dogs, a caucus of conservative Democrats, issued a set of principles opposing a public health care option unless it was triggered by the failure of private insurers to meet certain goals.

Harman, in a statement, said she supports a public option without a trigger. "I will oppose any plan that does not include this option, and am unwavering in my opposition to the so-called 'Blue Dog trigger,'" said Harman.

On Monday, the Huffington Post reported that the Blue Dogs had backed the trigger even though 20 of their 51 members, including Harman, had pledged to the reform coalition Health Care for America Now! (HCAN) that they supported a public option without one. (HCAN and other reform advocates consider a trigger to be the death of the public option.) If all 20 kept to their word, the Blue Dogs wouldn't have had enough votes to back a trigger.

Harman said she's sticking by her pledge.

"I am proud to have signed the HCAN (Health Care for America Now!) pledge to seek universal coverage," she said. "I am a strong supporter of universal health coverage, which is why I support the health care reform plan being developed by President Obama, Senator [Ted] Kennedy, and Congressman [Henry] Waxman. Like them, I believe that the bill must include a public health insurance option which guarantees all Americans access to quality, affordable health care."

Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.), a Blue Dog who also signed the pledge, told the Huffington Post she backs a public option without a trigger.

"America can't afford to wait for health care reform. While a single-payer system would be ideal, I am prepared to support other measures that also reduce costs, preserve doctor choice, and assure affordable, quality health care for all Americans," she said in a statement. "I think a public option without a trigger would be a good way to fix what's wrong with health care while preserving what works."

Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), the vice chairman of the Blue Dog Health Care Task Force, has also since come out in favor of a public option without a trigger.

UPDATE: Add Blue Dog Reps. Mike Thompson (Calif.) and Leonard Boswell (Iowa).

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