From the breaking news file
Democratic senators say they have a tentative deal to drop a government-run insurance option from health care legislation. No further details were immediately available.
But liberals and moderates have been discussing an alternative, including a private insurance arrangement to be supervised by the federal agency that oversees the system through which lawmakers purchase coverage. Additionally, talks centered on opening up Medicare to uninsured Americans beginning at age 55, a significant expansion of the large government health care program that currently serves the over-65 population.
Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa told reporters he didn’t like the agreement but would support it to the hilt in an attempt to pass health care legislation.
Let’s watch the blogsphere as it enters freakout mode.
An aide briefed on the negotiations among the gang of 10 offers up the rundown of the most important aspects of the public option compromise being sent to CBO.
If this trade-off carries the day, the opt out public is gone.
In its place will be many of the alternatives we’ve been hearing about, including a Medicare expansion and a triggered, federally-based public option.
As has been widely reported, one of the trade-offs will be to extend a version of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan to consumers in the exchanges. Insurance companies will have the option of creating nationally-based non-profit insurance plans that would offered on the exchanges in every state. However if insurance companies don’t step up to the plate to offer such plans, that will trigger a national public option.
Beyond that, the group agreed–contingent upon CBO analysis–to a Medicare buy in.
That buy-in option would be available to uninsured people aged 55-64 in 2011–before the exchanges open. For the period between 2011 and 2014, when the exchanges do open, the Medicare option will not be subsidized (and so will likely be quite expensive). However, after the exchanges launch, the Medicare option would be on the exchanges, where people could pay into it with the exchanges.
It looks as if liberals lost out on a Medicaid expansion that would have opened the program up to everybody under 150 percent of the poverty line. That ceiling will likely remain at 133 percent, as is called for in the current bill.
In addition to the new insurance options, the group has tentatively agreed to new, and strengthened insurance regulations, which the aide could not divulge at this time.
Now it’s a question of what the CBO says, and then: will Joe Lieberman object to the trigger. This trigger seems awfully hard to pull. But he’s said he’d object to any kind of government insurance option–even triggered–in the past.