"Sebelius Indicates Willingness To Compromise On Public Plan, Offers Support For Co-Op Proposal"
In an emailed statement to Bloomberg News, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said she’s open to the idea of dropping a public health insurance option in favor of a medical-insurance cooperative. “You could theoretically design a co-op plan that had the same attributes as a public plan,” Sebelius said.
The leading co-op proposal in the Senate, offered by Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND), does not share the attributes of a public plan. Instead, Conrad’s proposal would create multiple state or regional non-profits as a competitor to the private insurance market. As Howard Dean has said of this plan: “The co-ops are too small to compete with the big, private insurance companies. They will kill the co-ops completely by undercutting them, using their financial clout to do it.”
Bloomberg’s Al Hunt asked Sebelius, “[If] you’re willing to compromise on your notion of a public plan…what’s non-negotiable?” Sebelius responded that the final bill has to “have a comprehensive approach that lowers costs. That’s non-negotiable.” She added reform also “needs to provide coverage for everyone.” Watch it:
This isn’t the time to compromise on core health care reform principles. As CAP fellow Ruy Teixeira notes, “Right now support is running high for the public option.”
Matt Yglesias adds that the public option is uniquely important because, if implement, it is likely “become an enduring feature of the landscape that’s unlikely to vanish.” While other progressive health insurance reforms can be enacted in the future, Yglesias argues, “for the public option, it’s probably now or never.”