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Health co-ops should be expanded, not limited
One of the casualties of the recent budget deal is a potential game-changer in health care: nonprofit health insurance cooperatives (co-ops). Although not eliminated, the funding to help launch the co-ops was cut significantly. Let's set aside the fact that the "savings" from the $2.2 billion cut to the co-ops is budgetary sleight of hand, since the start-up funding to co-ops is in the form of loans which must be repaid in full. The unfortunate consequence of this ill-advised cut is that these incubators of innovative health care practice — which in many states will be the sole consumer-oriented competitors to the offerings of the big insurance companies — will be limited in number rather than exist nationwide, as originally envisioned by the sponsor of the co-op initiative, North Dakota Democratic Sen. Kent Conrad.
By Peter Beilenson
April 18, 2011