WASHINGTON (CNN) - A proposal to create privatelyoperated
health-insurance cooperatives as an alternative to a government-run health plan is gaining steam in the Senate, several key senators said Wednesday.
The plan is shaping up as possibly the most viable way to bridge a key difference between Democrats and Republicans negotiating a health care overhaul, senators said.
The non-profit co-ops, based on the model of electricity, agricultural and other cooperatives in rural states, would be run and paid for by its members, although an initial infusion of federal funds might be needed to get them off the ground, senators said.
"I'm doing all I can to get a bipartisan solution, and right now the so-called public option is being transformed into a private alternative," Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Montana, said as he left a closed-door meeting on the issue. "It may not work. If so, we'll have to find something else. But right now it looks like it has a decent chance of working."
Baucus tasked two senior Democrats - Charles Schumer of New York and Kent Conrad of North Dakota - to develop legislation that might be acceptable to enough lawmakers from both parties to pass.