Public Option ‘Compromise’ May Rest On Private InsurersThe Associated Press/The Washington Post reports that "private insurers - not the government - would offer coverage under a compromise Democrats are considering ... the latest idea bears little resemblance to the original vision outlined by liberals, and embraced by Obama, during the 2008 presidential campaign. That called for the government to sell insurance to workers and their families in competition with industry giants like UnitedHealthcare" (Alonso-Zaldivar, 12/8).
Under the emerging compromise plan, the government would be allowed to contract with insurers to set up coverage for uninsured people, The New York Times reports, as it does under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. "The goal would be to provide a menu of private, nationwide insurance plans. The federal Office of Personnel Management would oversee them, conducting the same type of negotiation over benefits and premium prices that it does for federal workers" (Herszenhorn, 12/8).
"But the closed-door negotiations have yet to produce a deal that could unite 60 senators, the number needed to overcome an expected GOP filibuster and ensure passage of the bill," the Los Angeles Times reports. "Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), who has indicated he would not vote for a bill that includes a public option, said Monday that negotiators were 'a long way' from a final compromise." Meanwhile, liberals continued to insist on a strong, government-run version of the plan (Levey and Hook, 12/8).
Despite his reservations, Nelson said the "discussions are going in the right direction," USA Today reports. Democratic leaders are still hoping to complete the health overhaul legislation by Christmas, but deadlock over the public option and other divisive provisions such as those pertaining to abortion coverage threaten to stall the bill (Fritze, 12/8).
"The turning point in the debate occurred over the past few weeks, as some progressives began to question whether the public option had been watered down too much for it to even be effective," Politico reports. "The potential compromise was the latest, but perhaps most important, attempt at defusing the highly charged debate over the public option." It may signal that liberals now realize that they can't muster the necessary 60 votes to pass their vision for the public plan into law (Budoff Brown, 12/7). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.