Senate Republicans hinted Wednesday that they could accept a compromise health plan optionwith some tweaksoffered by Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) and based on the old adage that theres strength in numbers.
Under Conrads compromise plan, states, regions, counties and other groupings could band together in a co-op, ideally giving them enough leverage to bargain with providers and payers for healthcare coverage.
Details are still being discussed and questions remain from both parties, but the idea has moved swiftly from the written page to the committee room all the way to the White House, where President Barack Obama received a briefing on it by Senate leaders Wednesday morning.
Sen. Chuck Grassely (Iowa), the senior Republican on the Senate Finance Committee and a vocal opponent of a government-backed health plan, said Conrads plan could be shaped in a way that could garner GOP support. Its got possibilities, Grassely said. But, he added, concerns over the governments role in funding and oversight need to be worked out first. Co-ops would need to be self-sufficient in a hurry, relying on federal loans only to get started, Grassley said. Additionally, they could not be government-backed, which would potentially give such groupings a federal lifeline if they were to stumble financially.