“The bottom line for us is that we want to make sure that the insurance company does not stand in the middle between your doctor and your family,” Stabenow said.
The comments, made during a Capitol Hill news conference, come as Democrats again retreated from talk over a national health plan—a move hastened recently as some senators acknowledged a lack of wholesale support among party members.
Over the past seven days, lawmakers have worked to find a workable compromise as reform legislation continued to be shaped on the Senate floor.
One plan gaining momentum is to create a national system patterned on the Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan, administered by the Office of Personnel Management and similar to the one that members of Congress use.
“What's most important and what's driving all of our different policy discussions is to make sure that people have what they're paying for,” Stabenow said.
Since reform discussions began more than a year ago, Democrats have eyed different wants to force more competition, better pricing and other detailed changes to how health insurance companies do business. The vehicle to do so has largely been seen as a government-backed health insurance option.
Yet such a provision has proven divisive among Democrats even though the goals of driving down costs and increasing competition have stayed the same, Stabenow said.
“I think for those of us who want a public option, we have to look at why did we want it?” she added. “I didn't support a public option because of its name. I supported a public option because of what it did.”
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