Finance Panel Negotiators To Test Bipartisan Water On Co-op Plan
Key Senate negotiators a group of three Republicans and three Democrats on the Finance Committee will test the traction of a plan to create private health insurance cooperatives instead of a government-run insurance plan during a conference call today, The Los Angeles Times reports. The group's "prospects for keeping a bipartisan health plan alive could hinge on the acceptability of co-ops to both sides." The co-op idea has been gaining prominence, although the president and many Democratic lawmakers have advocated the so-called public option. Opponents of that approach, including most Republicans, say it would drive insurers out of business.
"Senators seeking a compromise hope that the White House, its liberal allies and Republicans might find common ground in co-ops. Supporters say co-ops offer improved service and are cheaper because they don't have to turn a profit. They would return revenue to their members in the form of lower premiums and be self-governed by elected boards. And the co-ops might help the White House achieve its goal of providing competition to private insurance companies," the Times reports (Oliphant, 8/20).
However, 65 Democratic lawmakers may have to backpedal to support co-ops, CQ Politics reports. During the 2008 election cycle, the progressive lawmakers pledged not to support health reform absent a public option in exchange for support from the $52 million-plus fundraising campaign by ActBlue. The groups fundraising efforts have reignited, already raising another $108,000 in the last week, "at a time when questions have been raised about whether the Obama administration will continue to support efforts in Congress to include a public option as part of an overhaul measure" (Knott, 8/19).