Centrists Steer Talks Away From Public Plan
"Senate Democrats debating how to overhaul America's healthcare system are moving toward a showdown over whether to create a government-run insurance program or set up a system of cooperatives instead," the Los Angeles Times reports. The public plan, endorsed by Obama, is an important goal for many liberals, but Republicans strongly oppose expanding Washington's role in health care. The Senate centrists who are now driving the debate from the Finance Committee, are "leaning towards" the cooperatives which would be owned by their members, rather than controlled by the government. The hope is the compromise will attract a degree of bipartisan support (Levey and Hook, 7/29).
Meanwhile, "[l]iberals who see the effort to overhaul health care as a once-in-a-generation opportunity are growing anxious that a final deal -- and a Democratic president they backed -- will negotiate away their top priority: a public plan to compete with private insurers," the Wall Street Journal reports. "Some Democrats are threatening to oppose any bill that excludes this option, and sympathetic outside groups are pressuring wavering lawmakers." Liberals also are concerned that when push comes to shove, President Obama will back away from his earlier support of the public plan (Meckler and Bendavid, 7/29).
"With health care talks bogged down in the House and Senate, the administration appears more receptive to fallbacks to the government-run option," including the consumer-owned 'co-op' health plan, CQ Politics reports. That's a major shift from the president's line at a June 23 news conference, where he said it "makes sense" to deploy a public plan that could keep administrative costs down and not be driven by profit (Bettelheim, 7/28).