Moderate Democrats Outline Stance on Public Plan in Reform Talks
On Thursday, the House Blue Dog Coalition outlined what a public option should look like if one were to be included as part of health care reform legislation, CongressDaily reports. The group prefers to use a public option as a fallback if insurance market reforms provide inadequate cost containment and competition.
They said that if a public option is needed, it should operate under the same rules and regulations that apply to private insurers and not mirror Medicare. Blue Dogs said the public option should:
- Offer higher reimbursement rates than Medicare;
- Operate based on premium and copayment revenue, not taxpayer funds; and
- Establish a reserve fund to meet liability requirements (Edney, CongressDaily, 6/4).
In addition, the government must negotiate provider reimbursement rates for the plan, and provider and patient participation in the program must be voluntary, according to the group.
The Blue Dogs said, "How a public option is constructed and allowed to compete are critically important to ensuring families have the ability to keep their current health coverage and continue to see the doctor of their choice" (Wayne, CQ Today, 6/4).
Rep. Mike Ross (D-Ark.), chair of the Blue Dog health care task force, said, "We cannot create a public option that stacks the deck -- through rate-setting and forced participation -- against a system that currently provides coverage to 160 million" U.S. residents (CongressDaily, 6/4).
According to CQ Today, it is unclear whether liberal Democrats would be willing to support a health reform bill that includes restrictions on a public option being touted by the Blue Dogs (CQ Today, 6/4).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.