Legislation expected to emerge from the Senate Finance Committee likely won't include two key planks of a Democrat-backed platform to overhaul the U.S. healthcare system—a public health plan and a requirement for employers offer insurance.
Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), emerging from a closed-door meeting of Senate negotiators, said that the committee is strongly leaning against mandating employer-sponsored coverage and establishing “co-op” buying groups in place of a public health plan option. Snowe and other senators continued to suggest that nothing is final as the committee heads into the heavy lifting of figuring out how to finance such a package, which likely will near $1 trillion over the next decade.
“But the co-op is one of the more prominent options, it's been fully explored,” she said. “It's safe to say that it probably is going to remain in the final document.”
Snowe said that rather than force employers to offer health benefits to their workers, the so-called “free rider” initiative has become the favored option. Under the proposal, employers would be required to pay a certain amount if their workers were on Medicaid or got their insurance from the health insurance exchange.