Schumer Preparing Strong Public Plan Option
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., a member of the key Senate Finance Committee and advocate for a government-run health insurance plan, said yesterday he would abandon all other possible compromises in favor of immediately creating a public plan that "would operate on 'a level playing field' with private insurers," CongressDaily reports. Other proposals have included a plan that would establish health insurance co-ops with government seed money or "trigger" the creation of a public plan only if private insurers fail to meet certain targets for containing costs and improving access.
Schumer's office said he was preparing an amendment to the Finance Committee's bill, which is expected as early as next week, suggesting that the bill will include one of the other alternatives designed to seek bipartisan compromise. "Schumer's announcement is a potential blow to bipartisan efforts on the Finance Committee, where some Republicans prefer, if not fully support, the co-op proposal," CongressDaily reports (Edney, 7/1).
It's not just Republicans who may be unsettled by the push for the public plan. Sen. Joe
Lieberman, I-Conn., a four-term senator who caucuses with the Democrats, told home-
state reporters this week, "If we create a public option, the public is going to end up
paying for it. That's a cost we can't take on," the New Haven Independent reports (Bass, 7/1).
Some liberal Democrats are also troubled that the talked-about public plan compromises, including Schumer's, are too weak. "We haven't yet applied enough pressure to get done what has to be done," David Himmelstein, a single-payer advocate and cofounder of Physicians for a National Health Program, told the Christian Science Monitor. Single-payer reform has not gained traction in either the House or Senate, but some liberal congressmen have stated that it is their preference. Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., for instance, introduced a bill to create one such plan (Francis, 6/1).