Senators Debate Public Plan, Co-ops For Health Overhaul
Senators crafting health reform legislation are debating a number of issues ahead of the revelation of proposal including the inclusion of a cooperative as an alternative to a government-run public plan, Politico reports.
"Three key senators involved in health care talks Monday sought to downplay remarks from Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., implying that negotiators were at an impasse resolving divisions over the inclusion of some form of a public insurance option. Schumer cast serious doubt on the political viability of an alternative proposal from Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., to create nonprofit insurance cooperatives - considered the last remaining hope to bridging partisan differences over the public plan - and said Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee have rejected proposals to make the co-op plan more appealing to Democrats."
The plan has failed to attract the support of Senate Democrats outside of the Senate Finance Committee. "Schumer has become the de facto spokesman for the liberal wing inside the negotiating room, and his decision to declare the co-op all but dead dims the prospects of a bipartisan compromise in their eyes" (Brown, 6/23).
The public plan option remains controversial in the Senate, Roll Call reports, though a recent poll shows that 70 percent of Americans support such an idea: "While House Democrats are gleefully touting the popularity of the public insurance option that is the centerpiece of their recently released bill draft, the Senate has been slogging ahead on two different paths - the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee is expected to produce a public insurance option while the Finance Committee is conducting a bipartisan experiment to create independent, nonprofit health care insurance cooperatives" (Pierce and Dennis, 6/23).
As Finance Committee senators fight over what will be included, the HELP Committee waits for the Congressional Budget Office score on its version of the health reform bill, CongressDaily reports: "The budget office is scoring the public plan; a pay-or-play option modeled on the system in place in Massachusetts; and a proposal to deal with 'free riders' in the system. 'Those are three that they are running numbers on,' said Dodd, who is chairing the lengthy markup proceedings while HELP Chairman Edward Kennedy is being treated for brain cancer" (Hunt, 6/23).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.