August 18th, 2009
03:26 PM ET
5 years ago

Health care co-ops: Will they work?

Democratic Sen. Kent Conrad, of North Dakota, says a public option plan might not make it through Congress.
Democratic Sen. Kent Conrad, of North Dakota, says a public option plan might not make it through Congress.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - While a government-run public health care option irks conservatives, and even some fiscally minded Democrats, the idea of health care cooperatives has emerged as an option in the reform debate.

Small health care cooperatives have worked in a couple of markets. But whether the idea can be applied on a national scale is debatable.

Sen. Kent Conrad, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, is pushing the co-op idea as an alternative to a government-sponsored insurance program that would compete with private insurers. He doesn't think a government option will pass in the Senate.

Conrad, a North Dakota Democrat, told CNN's "American Morning" on Tuesday that his model could attract 12 million members and "be the third-largest insurer in the country and be a very effective competitor [with private insurance companies]."

Related: Doctors, patients praise co-ops

"If you believe competition helps drive down costs, then they would certainly contribute to holding down costs," Conrad said.

But Tim Jost, a professor at Washington and Lee University, said that Conrad is not offering concrete statistics on how the plan will help reform health care.

"I have not seen anything, other than Sen. Conrad's statements to the press, explaining how this is going to work," he said. "He put out a couple of one-pagers early on, but he is talking about this actuarial data. Let's make it public, let's find out who the actuaries are."

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Filed under: Health care
soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Moderate Democrat

    No, they will not.

    It's simple....put the bill as it is into vote. Let's see the faces of who doesn't vote for it. Then give us 2010 to replace THEM with votes FOR the bill.

    We are willing to lose this time, so that we can target those against reform.

    We still have your back Obama, give us the senate vote and we will line up those against reform and throw them out on thier demonic arses.

    August 18, 2009 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  2. Face reader

    Just look at that face.Every picture tells a story,and this guys story is like a nightmare.

    August 18, 2009 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  3. aproudmemberoftheunpatrioticmob

    They are really nothing but a stalking horse for what Obama wants. They will settle, like they did with Medicare, make all kinds of promises of how it will not grow or become a burden on our taxes. But it will be all lies. The "Great Society" programs spent $3 billion dollars for nothing, Obama will spend much more and we will get much less.

    August 18, 2009 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  4. Kevin B

    This Conrad guy has been gotten too, by the insurance companies.

    It is appears that the only politcian in America with the balls to take on the insurance lobby is president Obama.

    Do not compromise with these republican and democratic house and senater cowards any longer, throw down the gauntlet Mr President and fully push the public option, your supporters will ensure you win on behalf of the american people and even if you do not win this time at least we all know you did the best you could for all americans.

    August 18, 2009 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |