Report: Senate Finance Committee To Include Co-Ops, No Employer Mandate

July 27, 2009 3:38 p.m.

A quick update on this post. More details have emerged from the Associated Press bringing a bit of clarity to the question of what’s going on in the Senate Finance Committee.

AP is now reporting— that the Senate Finance Committee will likely call for the creation of a system of non-profit co-operatives in lieu of a public option–something which has been in the works for weeks–but will not require employers to provide insurance for their workers.

[O]fficials stressed that no agreement has been reached on a bipartisan measure, and said there is no guarantee of one. They also warned that numerous key issues remain to be settled, including several options to pay for the legislation. They spoke on condition of anonymity, saying they were not authorized to discuss matters under private negotiations.

They said any legislation that emerges from the talks is expected to provide for a non-profit cooperative to sell insurance in competition with private industry, rather than giving the federal government a role in the marketplace. The White House and numerous Democrats in Congress have called for a government option to provide competition to private companies and hold down costs.

Officials also said a bipartisan compromise would not subject companies to a penalty if they declined to offer coverage to their workers. These businesses would be required to reimburse the government for part or all of any federal subsidies designed to help lower-income employees obtain insurance on their own.

That won’t create nearly as much of a splash as we would have seen if, after months of wrangling, the committee had just punted on the public option question. But reformers are still averse to the co-op model, and, given the nature of the reform proposals, regard the employer mandate as a crucial element–one which could still be imported from other legislation. We shall see.

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