Health Care Cooperatives — Co-ops or Cooptation?

President Obama’s political arm, Organizing for America — a “project” of the DNC — is hosting a National Health Care Forum with the President this afternoon to rally the activist troops. The AFL-CIO is among the organizers of a Capitol Hill rally in conjunction with the campaign for health care campaigns.

The public option remains this week’s focal point of debate.

The Washington Post editorializes in “No Longer an Option“: “[The] reality is that, if the Obama administration wants to get health reform done, it’s going to have to back away from the public option sooner or later — and it’s getting awfully late.”

At Kausfiles, “Thinking Through the ‘Public Option’,” Mickey Kaus explores the arguments for the public option as a cost-savings measure versus the public option as as a mechanism to ensure personal security for individuals: “At bottom, there clearly still seems to be an uneasy, ongoing tension between a public plan’s cost-cutting purpose and it’s security-for-those-who-get-sick purpose. Hard to see how it can do 100% of both at the same time.”

Well, what about co-ops? Or coops? Or coöps? You know, cooperatives. Like rural electric cooperatives, or the Berkeley Food Co-Op, or Cenex (the Farmer’s Union gas stations/convenience stores in the Great Plains). Cooperatives!

The Huffington Post’s political writer, Jason Linkins, at The Huffington Post sarcastically assesses the media’s coverage and policy discussions of the co-option in “Health Care Co-Op Supporters Don’t Know What They’re Talking About”: “In the case of co-ops, the discussion has been even more inane than usual because nobody seems able to consistently describe what a “health care co-op” is. This does not dissuade the media, however. They’re perfectly happy allowing a bunch of idiots talk about how magical (or how destructive) co-ops are based purely on the totally screwed-up political calculus.”

Or more factually put, here’s Heritage’s take, “Morning Bell: Public Option Is Not Dead Yet”:

Co-operatives do have a long and proud tradition in many sectors of the U.S. economy, but details matter. Conrad says these health co-ops will not be “government-run and government-controlled” but instead “membership-run and membership controlled.” But others in Conrad’s caucus have a starkly different co-op goal. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is pushing a vision of co-ops that are: 1) run by the government, preferably the federal government; 2) funded or subsidized by the government; or 3) includes plans chosen by the government.

If the language that comes out of the Senate looks anything like what Schumer is proposing, then there is no real difference between co-ops and the public plan. If, on the other hand, the Senate produces something that; 1) is not funded by the federal government 2) is not “government-run and government-controlled”; but instead 3) is “membership-run and membership controlled” then co-ops would be acceptable.

But does it really matter? Any of these varieties of coops would likely wind up government controlled, that is, regulated and prescribed and monitored and mau-maued into submission to statism.

From CQ Politics, “House Dems Blitz Insurers With Demands for Data on Profits, Perks“:

Three key Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee have launched a barrage of letters targeting dozens of insurers with requests for information on salaries, board compensation, entertainment expenses and profits in what industry sources describe as an attempt at intimidation.

An Aug. 17 letter to 52 insurers from Reps. Henry A. Waxman of California and Bart Stupak of Michigan seeks information on executive salaries, bonuses, stock options, company perks, amounts spent on entertainment and company retreats, and sums spent on board compensation. It asks for four years’ worth of data on company and product line profits, payouts for claims and administrative expenses, and premium revenues.

See, this model ostensibly continues private insurance but effectively renders it the government-run public option, in this case government being Henry Waxman.

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