The Conrad Health Reform Compromise
As Congress delves into its much anticipated health care reform debate, the discussion thus far has been framed as a black vs. white clash between those (mostly Democrats) in support of a public plan to compete with private insurers, and those (mostly Republicans) for whom such an option is a non-starter.
Enter Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, who earlier this week floated vague ideas about creating cooperatives that would offer consumers a new coverage option that wouldn’t be run by the government. On Tuesday, Conrad explained his rationale to Fox News:
The other side very much wants to have a competing delivery model to provide additional competition … for-profit insurance companies. And the cooperative model does that as well, because it’s not for profit and so poised to compete well with for-profit insurance companies. [...]
[T]he strong objection from some Republicans and some Democrats to public option is that it’s government run, that it’s perhaps a back-door approach to single payer and you’ve got government setting rates. This avoids all that because it’s not run by the government. It’s membership-controlled, membership-run, just like all the cooperatives around the country that already exist.
Congressional interest in the concept, Conrad says, “is growing.”