Democrats appear open to a proposal for insurance cooperatives.
"Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius signaled on Sunday a willingness from the White House to embrace insurance cooperatives as the main plank of health-care reform rather than pushing for a public option in the final version of legislation being debated in Washington and throughout town halls across America," The Washington Post
reports. Senator Kent Conrad, D-N.D., a member of the Senate Finance Committee, "said on Sunday that hope for a government-run public option to be included in a final reform bill is all but dead. 'The fact of the matter is there are not the votes in the United States Senate for the public option,' Conrad said on 'Fox News Sunday.' 'There never have been. So to continue to chase that rabbit, I think, is just a wasted effort.'"
The statements "come a day after President Obama himself suggested that supporters of reform should be realistic about what will eventually come out of Congress." On CBS's 'Face the Nation,' White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs "also would not commit to any insistence of a public option from the White House" (Amick, 8/16). The Associated Press
reports that Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., "says a potential administration shift from a government-run health insurance to a privately run cooperative is something that opponents like him should consider." Shelby, an opponent of Obama's health care overhaul, "says he sees insurance co-ops as 'a step away from the government take over of the health care system.' He says 'that's something we should look at.'" Shelby appeared on 'Fox News Sunday' with Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., who "has been pushing the co-op system as an alternative to a government-run public option to help cover the nation's nearly 50 million uninsured" (8/16).