California’s Blue Dogs Emerging as Key Players in Health Care Reform
Democratic California representatives in the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition could play a decisive role in shaping national health care reform legislation, Capitol Weekly reports.
California has seven Blue Dogs in the 52-member coalition, more than any other state.
Break From the Pack
In May, five of California's seven Blue Dogs declined to sign a letter from the caucus expressing opposition to key elements of the Obama administration's health reform plans. Rather, the same five signed a pledge from the group Health Care for America Now, which supports a public plan option. Many Blue Dogs oppose the idea of a government-run insurance option.
The five Blue Dogs who broke from the caucus were Democratic Reps.:
- Joe Baca;
- Jane Harman;
- Loretta Sanchez;
- Adam Schiff; and
- Mike Thompson.
The two additional California Blue Dogs are Reps.:
- Dennis Cardoza; and
- Jim Costa.
Fewer Donations From Industry
A recent analysis from Consumer Watchdog found that California Blue Dogs took in less in financial contributions from health insurers and pharmaceutical companies than other members of the caucus.
Individual Blue Dogs on average have gained about $34,000 each from the health care industry since 2005.
In contrast, California coalition members took an average of only $18,464 each from the industry, the analysis said. Cardoza and Costa, who generally have aligned with the coalition on health care, together collected $9,000 from health industry groups.
Some advocates say California's coalition members are more invested in national reform because health care is a more pressing need in their home state.
In addition, many California Blue Dogs represent relatively Democratic districts, while other members of the coalition tend to represent more moderate or even Republican districts. Some observers say this difference in constituencies also could account for the divergence of California members on health care (Maclachlan, Capitol Weekly, 8/6).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.