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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Minnick, McMorris Rodgers vote no on health bill

Jacob Barker Correspondent

WASHINGTON – In a late-night vote on Capitol Hill, the representatives from Eastern Washington and western Idaho both voted against the House of Representatives’ version of health care reform.

Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., and Walt Minnick, D-Idaho, both said no to what could be the largest overhaul of the U.S. health care system since Medicare was created in 1965.

McMorris Rodgers has often spoken against the Democrats’ main domestic priority. She voted against a version of the bill in committee and said she’s been hearing strong opposition to it from her constituents.

“I’ve held town halls at home; the phone’s been ringing off the hook today. … People want health care reform, but this is the wrong approach,” she said.

She said the bill would increase premiums for most Americans and would cut Medicare Advantage, affecting 20,000 seniors in Eastern Washington.

“It’s the wrong prescription for America,” she said.

Minnick, a moderate first-term Democrat from a conservative district, publicly announced his opposition to the bill Friday. A member of the Blue Dogs, a caucus of conservative Democrats, Minnick has been given leeway in the past to vote against his party by a Democratic leadership seeking to protect its more vulnerable members.

“I want to support health reform, but we’ve got to do it right,” Minnick said.

He said the House bill does not include some of the most important criteria, such as “meaningful cost control” and allowing insurance to be bought and sold across state lines. But Minnick said some of the provisions in the Senate bill are encouraging, such as its lower cost and a public option where states can choose not to participate.

As the bill developed, Minnick said, he suspected he’d vote against it. But he’s not sure how his constituents will respond.

“I have constituents who feel strongly both ways,” Minnick said. “I’ve heard enough who strongly support it and enough who strongly oppose it that I’m not sure what my constituents will think. I’m just trying to do what’s best for them and their kids.”