Cooperating with co-ops
Remember the health-care cooperatives that Sen. Kent Conrad proposed as an alternative to the public option but that never really got taken seriously? Well, they made it into the final version of the law. Odds are that they won't have much impact on the health-care market going forward because starting small means they won't have much leverage to bargain good prices with providers, and if they're not cheaper, then no one will choose them.
But they could end up being a really interesting part of the bill if regulators listen to Sara Collins and either mandate that providers charge co-ops "the lowest price charged to the most favored customer," or if co-ops are given the power to form a national purchasing authority that could negotiate on behalf of all members of all co-ops at once. This isn't exactly the sexiest part of health-care reform, but I guarantee you that a few small provisions in the bill and regulatory decisions about small provisions in the bill are going to end up being vastly more important to the future of the health-care system than we think. Maybe this'll be one of them.
| January 14, 2011; 10:06 AM ET
Categories: Health Reform
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