First proffered by Sen Snow (R-ME) and now supported by former Senate Majority leader Frist, we may just be on to something:
Roberts: Let’s zero in on this idea of competition in the marketplace. Many Democrats believe the way to really get competition in the marketplace is to put forward a public option, which would have a government-sponsored health insurance program out there competing with the other ones. Would you support that?Wow, even Frist gets it, did you catch that:
Frist: A public option as a backup that is not federally controlled, but is controlled at the local level with local ownership.
Roberts: Are you talking co-ops?
Frist: It can be a co-op, but even the co-op people – it’s kind of a new concept, but the idea of not having government out there controlling prices out there undercutting the insurance market. And that’s the big fear. At the end of the day, you’re going to have to have some sort of a backup of a public plan. And at the end of the day, if the private sector doesn’t step up, you have to have some other kind of trigger coming into play.
Roberts: So you’re talking about Olympia Snowe’s idea?
Frist: Olympia Snowe. And it’s what we did in 2003 with the Medicare Modernization Act, which was the prescription drug plan. If the private sector does not step up, and there’s not more than two plans there, a public plan that has local control, local and private implementation, has to step in.
Roberts: It sounds like the plan that’s being written in the Senate Finance Committee is something that you might support?
Frist: I’m coming out very strongly in support of what’s going on in the Senate Finance Committee. It’s bipartisan. I hope that it ends up being bipartisan. If not, it’s going to be a destructive bill. But it’s bipartisan. People working together. So we’re on the way there. I would not endorse the bill the way it is now. There’s still about 400 amendments out there so hopefully that process can come together.
I’m coming out very strongly in support of what’s going on in the Senate Finance Committee. It’s bipartisan.And not only that, Frist is a Doctor which gives him a bit more credibility in health care related discussions.