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November 6, 2009

Kratovil a "No" on health care

Frank Kratovil made it official today: he'll vote against the Democratic health care plan in the House this weekend.

The freshman Democrat from the Eastern Shore, facing one of the toughest re-election fights in the country next year, released a statement declaring his opposition to the measure. His stance could complicate efforts by Democratic leaders to secure approval of the legislation this weekend.

“After months of thoroughly reviewing legislative proposals and speaking with constituents and stakeholders, I am not satisfied that this bill before us is a sustainable solution,” Kratovil said in a release from his office this morning. “While I applaud the efforts to improve this bill, I still am concerned that this bill does not do enough to bend the long-term cost curve and that it lacks adequate provisions to reduce the deficit and protect small businesses.”

Kratovil left open the possibility of supporting a future version of health care legislation. He stated that he would “continue to work with my colleagues to pursue a better bill as this process continues.”

If both the House and Senate approve health care overhaul plans, a final version of the legislation would have to be crafted and submitted to both chambers for a vote. That merged plan could be more palatable to moderates.

Kratovil, who represents the Eastern Shore and portions of Baltimore, Harford and Anne Arundel counties, is close to House Democratic Leader Steny Hoyer of southern Maryland. Kratovil had previously indicated his opposition to the House legislation, while leaving open the possibility that he might support it.

The former Queen Anne’s County prosecutor is a member of the House Blue Dog coalition, a group of 52 fiscally conservative Democrats that has been critical of the cost of their party’s health care proposal. He had been under pressure, from conservatives in his district and media ads by opponents of the Democratic health care plan, to vote against it.

Because House Republicans have remained united in their opposition to the Democratic health care proposal, House leaders will need to persuade at least a dozen Blue Dogs to support the plan. With a total of 258 Democrats in the House, and 218 votes needed to approve the measure, there can be no more than 40 defections by Democrats or the plan as currently written will fail.

In recent days, several House Democrats who represent Republican districts have come out against the measure. Kratovil, whose district backed Republican John McCain by a wide margin in 2008, fits that profile.

By announcing their opposition in advance of Saturday’s floor debate, these Democrats spare themselves from being pressured by House leaders to support the measure as a matter of party loyalty. Republicans are waging an aggressive campaign to warn Democrats from conservative districts that a vote in favor of the House health care plan, strongly supported by President Barack Obama and—just this week—groups such as AARP and the American Medical Association, could produce a voter backlash in 2010 that will end their careers in Congress.

Kratovil was the only Marylander whose vote was in doubt. The other Democrats in the delegation are expected to support the measure while the lone Republican, Rep. Roscoe Bartlett of western Maryland, is opposed.

Here is Kratovil's complete statement:

“We need health care reform that reduces long-term health care spending and expands coverage, but we must find a fiscally sustainable approach to accomplish these goals. After months of thoroughly reviewing legislative proposals and speaking with constituents and stakeholders, I am not satisfied that this bill before us is a sustainable solution. While I applaud the efforts to improve this bill, I still am concerned that this bill does not do enough to bend the long-term cost curve and that it lacks adequate provisions to reduce the deficit and protect small businesses. While I will continue to work with my colleagues to pursue a better bill as this process continues, I do not support HR 3962 and will vote against it when it comes to the floor this weekend.”

Posted by Paul West at 11:21 AM | | Comments (4)
        

Comments

The current health care reform package does not appear to be fiscally sustainable long term.
Why not a piecemeal approach to reform-
tort reform, ability to shop across state lines. medicare/medicaid reform for starters and then revisit the issue in 2/3 years.
Fiscal sanity needs to restored in DC.

While Mr.Kratovil didn't act like a "blue dog" on other major expensive legislation, he apparently read the tea leaves well. He is still in danger but this position gives him a little wiggle room.

I'm sure Congressman Kratovil knew the way his constituents felt about the house health care reform legislation. I'm also sure that Hoyer and Pelosi are aware of this, counted their votes, and gave him permission to vote "No." If the Democratic leadership had really needed his vote, they would have beat it out of him. Pelosi and her ilk have no concern for what the people want, they're only interested in what they want - more power.

Congressman Kravotil barely won in his District. Pelosi and Hoyer allowed him to vote no so as to keep him in office. They need all the Democrats in office that they can get to continue thier Socialist agenda. Kravotil up til now has been a lap dog for Pelosi and Hoyer, voting their way. When the bill goes back to the house from the Senate, he will vote for it if they need his vote.

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Annie Linskey covers state politics and government for The Baltimore Sun. Previously, as a City Hall reporter, she wrote about the corruption trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon and kept a close eye on city spending. Originally from Connecticut, Annie has also lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she reported on war crimes tribunals and landmines. She lives in Canton.

John Fritze has covered politics and government at the local, state and federal levels for more than a decade and is now The Baltimore Sun’s Washington correspondent. He previously wrote about Congress for USA TODAY, where he led coverage of the health care overhaul debate and the 2010 election. A native of Albany, N.Y., he currently lives in Montgomery County.

Julie Scharper covers City Hall and Baltimore politics. A native of Baltimore County, she graduated from The Johns Hopkins University in 2001 and spent two years teaching in Honduras before joining The Baltimore Sun. She has followed the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pa., in the year after a schoolhouse massacre, reported on courts and crime in Anne Arundel County, and chronicled the unique personalities and places of Baltimore City and its surrounding counties.
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