The Many Public Option Compromises
This is all getting a bit hard to keep track of. First there was Olympia Snowe's trigger. You remember. "This amendment establishes a non-profit government corporation through which a ‘safety net’ plan would be provided in any state in which affordable coverage was not available in the Exchange to at least 95% of state residents." Yeah? Yeah.
But then the Finance Committee voted down both the Schumer and Rockefeller public options. And so the Democrats began developing their own compromises.
Maria Cantwell is advocating a plan that allows states to negotiate with insurers on behalf of people between 133 percent and 200 percent of the poverty line (interview here). This seems like a perfectly fine policy idea. But it's entirely orthogonal to the public option debate. It doesn't create competition or transparency or experimentation. It makes health-care insurance cheaper for a small slice of people, but that's really it. Worth doing, but not an answer for those who want to see a public competitor.
Tom Carper's proposal is more interesting. It's gone through a couple twists in the past 24 hours (including the addition, and then welcome removal, of a trigger), but in its current form, each state would have the option to:
1) Participate as grantees in the CO-OP program and apply for seed funding.
2) Open up that state’s employee benefits plan.
3) Create a state administered health insurance plan with the option of banding together with other states to create a regional insurance compact.
Each state would, in other words, be allowed to create a public option. And states could band together to give their public options more bargaining power and efficiencies of scale. This would do a couple of things. First, it would give residents access to a public competitor. Second, it would provide an acid test of whether a public competitor substantially changes an insurance market. Does it force private insurers to bring their prices down? Does it create more competition and transparency? Are consumers more satisfied? And if all that happens, will other states really resist adopting the public option?
The problem with it is that it is, at best, regional. It doesn't have the buying power of a national public option. But that's a question of votes. If Schumer's proposal doesn't have 60 votes, which is what he's currently saying, this might well be a better option than Snowe's trigger.
October 1, 2009; 3:48 PM ET
Save & Share: Previous: The Public Option Compromises: An Interview With Sen. Maria Cantwell
Next: Guns vs. Butter
Posted by: cjo30080 | October 1, 2009 4:04 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Mimikatz | October 1, 2009 4:12 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: maritza1 | October 1, 2009 4:16 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: JWHamner | October 1, 2009 4:24 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: mbp3 | October 1, 2009 4:27 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Chris_ | October 1, 2009 6:04 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: FebM | October 1, 2009 7:33 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: bmull | October 1, 2009 10:03 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: punchaxverulam | October 2, 2009 7:27 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: ericma | October 7, 2009 2:42 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.