Argument: Co-ops are non-profits, not run by government nor companies

Issue Report: Health insurance cooperatives


“Cooperatives Being Pushed as an Alternative to a Government Plan”. Washington Post. August 18, 2009: “As prospects fade for a public, or government-run, option as part of health-care reform, key senators are considering another model to create competition for private insurers: member-owned, nonprofit health cooperatives. […] Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), the chief advocate for including cooperatives in reform legislation, has cited examples as disparate as the Land O’Lakes dairy concern, rural electricity cooperatives and Ace Hardware. […] But so far, cooperatives have been defined in the health-care debate primarily in terms of what they are not: They would not be run by the government. […] That may make the cooperatives more politically palatable to conservatives, as well as to some Democrats such as Conrad, who fear that the public option may be a bridge too far.”

Senator Kent Conrad, the North Dakota Democrat who chairs the Senate Budget Committee, said in a June 2009 interview with Ezra Klein: “for those against a public option because they fear government control, the co-op structure has some appeal because its not government control. It’s membership control, and membership ownership.”[1]

Senator Kent Conrad, a ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee and the figure originally proposing co-ops: “have some of the strengths of public option in that they are not for profit and will provide competition for the insurance companies. On the other hand, it meets some of the objections from others who don’t want a government-run plan, because co-ops are membership-run and membership-controlled, not government-controlled.”[2]