Greg Sargent reports that Brad Ellsworth, a key potential member of the Stupak bloc, is a yes on health care.

Another big get for Dems: Rep Brad Ellsworth, a former Yes vote who shared the concerns of the Stupak dozen and was intensely wooed by both sides, will vote Yes on the Senate bill, his spokesman confirms to me.

“He’s a Yes,” Jonathan Kott, communications director for Ellsworth, just said by phone. “He will vote in favor of health care reform.”

A press release detailing his rationale is forthcoming from his office.

Ellsworth, running for US Senate in Indiana, probably couldn’t say no and expect any kind of national fundraising for his candidacy.

Ellsworth’s Yes vote is one of the key ones needed by the leadership. That makes it 198-209, 206-212 with leaners. And importantly, under my metrics outlined in a previous post it could make Democrats as close as two votes away from passage.

There are pitfalls, however; the Medicare reimbursement disparity being chief among them. Alec MacGillis has a very good article detailing that. An excerpt:

A long-running tussle in Congress over regional Medicare reimbursement rates has erupted into a last-minute clash that has at least one House Democrat threatening to withdraw his support for the health-care overhaul up for a vote Sunday.

At the heart of the dispute is an attempt by hospitals and doctors in areas with lower per-patient Medicare spending — mostly in the Upper Midwest and Northwest — to reform the Medicare payment system to reward the “high-value” care that they practice, which they argue would help reduce health-care spending over the long run [...]

Rep. Peter DeFazio, a liberal Democrat from Oregon, told The Post Friday that unless congressional leaders restore the House language on Medicare payments, he will vote against the bill. “I will oppose the bill unless they fix geographic disparity,” he said.

“If they need my vote, they can address it….” he said. “We can shovel money into Louisiana, but our fix is gone … because there are some powerful East Coast senators who don’t want it in there.”

UPDATE: Just spoke with Rep. Ellsworth’s office and confirmed he’s a Yes. They’re sending over a statement.

UPDATE II: The statement, on the flip. Key line: “After assurance from the Catholic Health Association, Catholic Nuns and pro-life advocates I am confident in my heart that this bill meets my pro-life principles.” The nuns gave him cover.

“Like most Americans I was frustrated by this process throughout. Unfortunately many in both parties made snap judgments on whether or not they would support this bill based on politics, not policy. I was sent here to look at all sides of the argument in a thoughtful manner and I knew that the status quo was no longer acceptable. I needed to answer only one question when deciding whether to support this reform: will this bill benefit Hoosiers? Put simply, in my core I know it does.”

“There is no issue more important or more personal to every single Hoosier than our health and well-being. My job is to look beyond all the political games, study the bill carefully, and do my best to make the right decision for Indiana.”

“After months of meetings and conversations with thousands of Hoosiers, health care experts and pro-life advocates, I am confident supporting health care reform is the right decision for Hoosiers.”

“Starting this year, children with pre-existing conditions will never again be denied coverage. Indiana small businesses will get the tax breaks they desperately need to reduce their health care costs and invest those savings in growing their businesses and creating jobs for Hoosiers. And our seniors will see significant savings on their prescription drug bills as we start to close the Medicare Part D donut hole.

“As a pro-life Hoosier, one of my central concerns has been preventing federal funding of elective abortion. Throughout my brief time in Congress, I have held firm to my pro-life principles, even when it meant going against my party, and I am proud of my 100% pro-life voting record on abortion-related issues. I have spent time listening carefully to constituents, pro-life leaders, policy experts and reading all the details of every bill. After assurance from the Catholic Health Association, Catholic Nuns and pro-life advocates I am confident in my heart that this bill meets my pro-life principles and upholds the policy of no federal funding for elective abortions. More than that, it invests $250 million in support services for women facing unplanned pregnancies and over a billion dollars to help families afford adoption services. These investments will reduce the number of abortions in America.”

“In addition to meeting my pro-life principles, the plan reduces costs, improves access to affordable insurance options, covers pre-existing conditions, and does not add one penny to the deficit – my five principles for health care reform.”