Here's what he told Time's Karen Tumulty. "I think in theory you can imagine a cooperative meeting that definition."If Obama will not stake out a firm position on a public option, then it's over, guys. Even I'm just about done with this mealy-mouthed spineless garbage. Take a f'ckin stand, man.Obviously sort of the legal structure of it is less important than practically how can it operate. There are concerns that in the past, attempts at setting up co-ops have not been successful because they just haven't been able to get off the ground; sort of the start-up energy involved may not exist if you're doing a state-by-state co-op effort as opposed to a broad national plan.
That's roughly the Schumer position--if a co-operative can operate like a national government-run insurance program, then he'd likely support it. That's clarifying, in light of developments in the Senate Finance Committee. But it might just take the little-remaining wind out of the sails of some reformers.
Or else, just freakin go with the Baucus plan, force people to self-insure after every employer drops health coverage and leaves the entire middle class with no way to afford health insurance other than stuff with a deductible so high, you're still bankrupt.
At this point, we're looking at Baucus or nothing, and I'm praying for nothing.
[UPDATE 12:25 PM] Steve Benen offers some calming advice:
Before anyone says, "Obama is lowering the bar and willing to accept a co-op!" notice the details here. The president said, as recently as last week, co-ops have struggled "because they don't have the scale and the resources to be able to compete effectively."It's that last part of course that's the slippery slope. Notice that the Village doesn't bother to mention the other bills in the House or Senate that were passed out of committee, like HELP in the Senate. No, the only health care plan that matters is the "bipartisan" one in the Senate Finance Committee. It has become the default for Obamacare now, not one of many bills on the table that have to be reconciled.
It's why he talked to Tumulty about a "broad national plan," as opposed to regional or state co-ops that fail to include a large enough base of employers and individuals with purchasing power. As Brian Beutler explained, Obama's remarks on this are roughly the Schumer position -- if a co-operative can operate like a national government-run insurance program, then he'd likely support it."
That said, if the discussion shifts to how best to craft a functional co-op system, it's almost certainly shifting away from how to implement a public plan.
No public option, no employer mandate, limited subsidies, individual mandate = insurance company windfall, higher premiums, no incentive to lower costs. Oh, and watch the co-ops be state only instead of a national one, lowering their power even more. We'll end up with 50 state Masscare programs, which Republicans will then assure are tragically underfunded, and then as soon as possible they will kill the program.
Doesn't take a rocket scientist here, guys. A hundred million plus underinsured is where we're heading.