The fact that a Blue Dog has supported a public option in the past does not mean that they will support one now — their principles tend to be lobbyist-flexible.  But Nate Silver’s number crunching indicates that most of those who have done so in the past probably have majority support for a public option in their districts, so come 2010, they will have some explaining to do about why they flip-flopped.  That’s particularly true for those in California like Thompson and Schiff, who have significant Democratic majorities in their districts.

The list was primarily culled from the 20 Blue Dogs who signed on to the HCAN statement of principles, which  endorses "a public insurance plan without a private insurer middleman that guarantees affordable coverage."  It also advocated "using the public’s purchasing power to instill greater reliance on evidence-based protocols and lower drug and device prices" — the very opposite of co-ops.

I also included those who signed the July 22 letter to Steny Hoyer stressing the importance of having a strong public option, one that is tied to "an established provider network, like Medicare" (PDF).  I added those who voted for H.R. 3200 already as a member of one of the three committees that drafted it, and those who have made statements of support in the media for a public option.

The following is a list of Blue Dogs who have expressed support for a public option (with Nate Silver’s estimate of district support/opposition in parenthesis, for which actual polling data by DailyKos/Research 2000 has been substituted where applicable):  

1.   Jason Altmire: (35-53)

  • Signed HCAN principles
  • July 17:  Voted "no" as a member of the Health & Labor Committee against 3200 because of wealth surtax. 
  • September 11:  "I – I’m speaking for myself, I think that the public option may, if it’s done correctly may be a part of the package and could play a role. As Congresswoman Woolsey described, it would have to airtight, completely self-sustaining, not funded through taxpayer subsidies, and have to meet all the same insurance regulations. So, I don’t think that is the sticking point for the Blue Dogs and the moderate members. I think what we are most concerned about is we have to do this in a fiscally responsible way."
  • September 22:   "Altmire’s chief complaint about his own chamber’s bill was the inclusion of a surtax on the wealthy. But he said he didn’t expect that provision to make it through, and he signaled that excluding it would allow him to vote for the final bill."

2.    Mike Arcuri: (53-38)

  • Signed HCAN principles 
  • September 2 he said: "I personally think it is absolutely necessary that we have health care reform. The present system is unsustainable. And I happen to support a public option."

3.   Joe Baca: (77-19)

  • Signed HCAN principles 
  • July 8:  Signed letter to Steny Hoyer stressing the importance of having a strong public option, one that is tied to "an established provider network, like Medicare"

4.    Marion Berry: (48-42)

  • Signed HCAN principles 

5.   Sanford Bishop:  (75-21)

  • Signed HCAN principles 

6.   Leonard Boswell:  (52-38)

  • Signed HCAN principles
  • July 8:  Signed letter to Steny Hoyer stressing the importance of having a strong public option, one that is tied to "an established provider network, like Medicare." 
  • September 7:  “My sense, as I have traveled this district, that the support for a public option is up. … I think there’s a need for the public option. Will there be something else offered up that I don’t know about that might be usable? I don’t know. At this point, I don’t know what it would be.”
  • September 13:  Democratic U.S. Rep. Leonard Boswell, a member of the conservative Blue Dog caucus, received praise from his colleagues for standing up in a Democratic caucus meeting to declare his support for a public health insurance option. Other Blue Dogs have been reluctant to sign on to that component of President Barack Obama’s proposal.

7.   Chris Carney:   (43-46)

  • Signed HCAN principles 
  • August 25:  "A public option is something that may get us what we really want,"

8.  Henry Cuellar (53-40)

  • August 11:  “I support the public option plan. It does not mandate anything. It just gives you an option. There is still a role for the insurance industry. The public option is not going to take over,” said Cuellar.
    He does not, however, support H.R. 3200 "as written."

9.   Kathy Dahlkemper:  (53-38)

  • July 26:  I support reform that creates competition through a strong public option that lowers everyone’s costs and competes with private insurers
  • September 4:  "Dahlkemper told the audience she favors a public option, allowing a government insurance program to compete with private companies." 

10.  Gabby Giffords:  (43-46)

  • July 26:  "I support reform that creates competition through a strong public option that lowers everyone’s costs and competes with private insurers." 

11.  Bart Gordon:  (37-51)

  • August 1:  Voted "yes" on H.R. 3200 without reimbursement rates tied to Medicare as part of the Energy & Commerce Committee.

12.  Jane Harman:  (68-26)

  • Signed HCAN principles 
  • July 8:  Signed letter to Steny Hoyer stressing the importance of having a strong public option, one that is tied to "an established provider network, like Medicare."  
  • July 10:  “I’m for a robust public option and I filled out my survey to say I was,” Harman told the Huffington Post.
  • August 1:  Voted "yes" on H.R. 3200 without reimbursement rates tied to Medicare as part of the Energy & Commerce Committee.
  • Told Mike Stark she would vote against any health care bill that does not have a robust public option (video).

13.  Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin:  (46-43)

  • Signed HCAN principles 

14.  Baron Hill:  (52-39)

  • August 1:  Voted "yes" on H.R. 3200 without reimbursement rates tied to Medicare as part of the Energy & Commerce Committee. 

15.  Tim Holden:  (43-46)

  • Signed HCAN principles 

16.  Frank Kratovil:  (29-59)

  • Signed HCAN principles 

17..  Mike Michaud:  (63-30)

  • July 8:  Signed letter to Steny Hoyer stressing the importance of having a strong public option, one that is tied to "an established provider network, like Medicare" 
  • July 31:  “In my view, the House bill that we are ultimately asked to vote on must have a public option for me to support it.  I have strongly urged House leadership to work to keep it in the final package.  I am hopeful that it will be included, especially given that all three House committees have supported the idea of a public option.
  • September 24:  Democratic 2nd District Rep. Mike Michaud “strongly supports health care reform,” said Michaud spokesperson Ed Gilman. “He supports a public option. The question that remains to be answered is what the final bill will look like that we’re asked to vote on. And the congressman wants to see a final bill before he makes his final decision, obviously, because he wants to see how that bill would affect the state of Maine and Mainers in general.”

18.  Patrick Murphy:  (44-45)

  • July 9:  Rep. Patrick Murphy (Penn.) still backs a public plan without a trigger, said his spokeswoman Kate Hansen. "Congressman Murphy stands with President Obama in supporting the inclusion of a public option without a trigger in healthcare reform legislation, and believes it would be a good way to introduce transparency, competition, and cost-control into the insurance market," she said.
  • July 10:  Per Ryan Grim,  supports a public option without a trigger and does not sign on to the July 8 Blue Dog "statement of principles."
  • Told Mike Stark he supports a public option (video)

19.  John Salazar:  (49-21)

  • July 19:  "There is considerable talk about including some kind of public option to compete with the private plans. I think a public component may very well be necessary as part of any real health care reform."
  • September 10:  "I will support a public option if that is included in the final bill before Congress."

20.  Loretta Sanchez:  (68-26)

  • July 10:  “I am one of those people who believes that we should be required to have a public option because it will bring the costs of health care down.”
  • Signed HCAN principles 

21.  Adam Schiff:  (72-23)

  • Signed HCAN principles  
  • July 8:  Signed letter to Steny Hoyer stressing the importance of having a strong public option, one that is tied to "an established provider network, like Medicare" 
  • From his website:  "Rep. Schiff believes that a public program option should be made available to all, providing a greater choice to families and much needed competition with private insurers.
    The new public health insurance option’s ability to negotiate for lower prices could provide great incentive for private insurers to lower their administrative spending and use more healthcare dollars to provide actual healthcare. Projected numbers peg healthcare cost savings from the advent of a public option by about $2 trillion over eleven years."

22.  Zack Space:  (49-41)

  • August 1:  Voted "yes" on H.R. 3200 without reimbursement rates tied to Medicare as part of the Energy & Commerce Committee.  
  • Signed HCAN principles 

23.  Mike Thompson:  (75-20)

  • Signed HCAN principles 
  • Jul7 17:  Voted "yes" on H.R. 3200 with reimbursement rates tied to Medicare as part of the Ways & Means Committee.  
  • September 3:  "Another key factor in suppressing costs, Thompson said, is introducing a public option to compete with private insurance companies, which will drive costs down. Thompson said plainly that he supports the public option, and that he doesn’t imagine it is possible that any bill will pass the House without one."

24.  Charlie Wilson:  (57-35)

  • Signed HCAN principles 

That makes 24 Blue Dogs who have said that they support a public option.  A far cry from the "dozen" that Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin claims now support one.

It’s  worth nothing that the reason Herseth-Sandlin gives for the Blue Dog lack of support  is "cost.  But given the fact that their "changes" to H.R. 3200 that help PhRMA and raise Medicare reimbursement rates add $148 billion to the cost of the bill, it’s hard to take them seriously.

I didn’t add Jim Cooper and Mike Ross, who signed the HCAN principles but who have been so inconsistent in their positions it’s hard to say they stand for anything. I also didn’t include Earl Pomeroy, who told me he was for a public option, just not one tied to Medicare reimbursement rates.  Because, quite frankly, I just didn’t find it to be a credible claim.

Those who should be on the list but aren’t:  Dennis Cardoza (73-20), John Tanner (56-35), Alan Boyd (52-38), John Barrow (51-41) , Joe Donnelly (56-35) and Heath Shuler (51-39), who all quite likely have majority district support for a public option. Many others have plurality district support.  Because come 2010, they will all have to explain it to their constituents.

If Herseth-Sandlin wants to stick by her "dozen" claim, she needs to produce the list of 12 who have changed their position.

Many thanks to the researchers who worked tirelessly to help compile this information:  Amy, Kate, Jim, Pat, Jon Walker and Scarecrow. 

See also:  A Brief History of the Blue Dogs and a Public Option