As you all probably know by now, the Senate Finance Committee, one of five Congressional committees critical to health care reform, rejected two proposals Tuesday that would have created a public insurance plan to compete with private health insurance companies.
The public option has been a constant demand of more liberal lawmakers but is widely seen as a dealbreaker for most Republicans and moderate Democrats. The Finance Committee, as exhibited by Max Baucus’s chairman’s mark, left it out in favor of non-profit health care cooperatives.
As we know now from reading T.R. Reid’s book, France, German, and Japan (along with other countries) use non-profit insurance companies to provide health insurance to their citizens. Citizens then use the insurance companies to obtain care from doctors and hospitals that work for profit. But as Timothy Noah pointed out in Slate, for-profit insurance companies aren’t allowed in those countries. Also, as I think I can channel Reid to say, we don’t really have a model for non-profit health insurance companies in America.* What we do have are to big government-run programs, Medicaid and Medicare, that could be expanded.
But as Brian Lehrer pointed out in Wednesday’s show, none of this means the public option is completely dead.
*At least, not any more.