What's Going On With The Public Plan? : Planet Money After saying that it was willing to drop the creation of a public health care provider from its health care reform agenda, the White House says that President Obama will keep fighting for a public option.
NPR logo What's Going On With The Public Plan?

What's Going On With The Public Plan?

This weekend, it looked like the Obama administration was shying away from insisting on a public option as part of health care reform. Today, an aide wrote that the president will continue to fight for the creation of a public health insurance plan.

The notion that the administration was giving up on the public plan ruffled a lot of feathers on the left. Even if it's apparently back on the table, there's going to be huge hurdles to passing it. Yesterday, Democratic Senator Kent Conrad, a ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, said that there simply aren't enough votes in the Senate in favor of the plan. His committee is likely to endorse a regional health-care co-op program.

If you're confused about what these co-ops are all about, there's a great explainer over at Reuters. In short, these co-ops involve a form of health insurance wherein all policyholders have some ownership rights, and, more importantly, don't have to worry about turning a profit. The government would provide money to help set up national, state, and regional co-ops. However, co-ops already exist, and few have managed to be successful competitors to major insurance companies. If the point of a public plan is to provide a viable, competitive, nonprofit alternative to private insurers, co-ops may not be able to cut it.