Time was that Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) took the lead among members of the Senate Finance Committee in swatting down the idea of eschewing a government-run health insurance plan in favor of a system of health care co-operatives. Hypothetically, he said, one could construct a co-op plan that mimicked the public option, but such a construct wouldn't win the support of committee Republicans, and a weaker version would be a non-starter.
Then a bipartisan Finance Committee coalition--with an overwhelming preference for a co-op system--took over the process of writing a bill, and since then,Schumer's been relatively silent. But that's opened the door for reform advocate Jay Rockefeller.
"I will be darned if I support or allow to move forward -- to the extent that I can make a noise about it -- something which sounds user-friendly," Rockefeller told Politico. "What I have to worry about is, are co-ops going to be effective taking on these gigantic insurance companies? And from everything I know from people who represent them, the answer is a flat 'no.'"
Last week, Rockefeller asked the GAO to investigate this very question. Rockefeller isn't typically a rebellious sort, andlacks the business-friendly Schumer brand. But he does command a lot of respect on the issue and could make things uncomfortable for the so-called "coalition of the willing," especially if he convinces the committee's few liberals to stand with him.