The proposal from Republican members of the Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee to cut $3 billion from the health CO-OP program stands in stark contrast with the innovators of all political stripes, including many Republicans, who are developing health CO-OPs across the country. Yesterday's subcommittee vote was both bad policy and bad politics, as 17 CO-OPs developing in 17 states across the country have already signed loan agreements totaling nearly $1.33 billion, which is more than would be left for the program if this proposal were to become law. Instead of working to improve the health care system in our country in a pragmatic and bipartisan way - which is what health CO-OPs are currently undertaking - the members of the subcommittee who voted for this legislation seem to be focused on creating a political issue for November.
Though yesterday's actions by the subcommittee are regrettable, health CO-OPs are not deterred. Our members are diligently working to implement a new form of health insurance in their respective states, which will provide Americans with affordable, accountable, and consumer-governed health insurance options. These qualities were some of the most basic goals of health insurance reform, and we are excited about the plans that will be offered to future customers when the state insurance exchanges go live in 2014.
While yesterday's vote appeared to be a purely partisan exercise that has little chance of moving forward, Democrats, Republicans, independents, and people who are apolitical will continue to develop health CO-OPs. Though their politics may differ, they all agree that our health care system was broken, and health CO-OPs represent a truly innovative way to provide our fellow citizens with a solution to their health insurance needs. If Congress could function similarly, there is no challenge – health care or otherwise – that couldn't be overcome.
NASHCO is a nonprofit corporation formed to promote the development and success of the health co-op movement. NASHCO is composed of dedicated teams of volunteers throughout the nation seeking to establish a new way of accessing care using the cooperative governance model. The Common Ground Healthcare Cooperative of southeastern Wisconsin is a member of NASHCO. For more information, visit www.nashco.coop.