As some centrists Senate Democrats begin to reveal their feelings on the public option, others -- including Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) -- intend to stay mum until a Senate bill reaches the floor.
In an interview with the MinnPost, published today, the senior Minnesota senator said she remains open to the idea, but ultimately prefers something more "competitive" in nature.
"Klobuchar: I believe we can incentivize more affordable health care in general by better regulating insurance and creating meaningful competition for health care services. However, some of the options before Congress are tied to Medicare reimbursement rates. Before we even consider expanding Medicare, or another program based on its rates, we must reform our Medicare payment system so that it rewards value, not volume, and doesn't disadvantage states like Minnesota that provide high-quality care in an efficient way.
I would prefer a public option that would be a competitive option that would allow people to buy into a Federal Employee Health Benefits Program, which is a series of private plans…"
Klobuchar's wait-and-see approach contrasts greatly with that of her colleague, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), who told the MinnPost this week he adamantly supports the public option.
"Franken: I think that we can use the public option to cut costs because private health insurers will have to compete with it. The public option also doesn't have to make a profit so we can focus more on integrating care and coordinating health care homes and increasing quality to bring down costs.
MinnPost: What is your assessment on the likelihood that the public option will actually be part of the package? What are the challenges?
Franken: I think that it is touch and go, I really do. But I am going to fight for it. I am going to speak out on its behalf, lobby my other colleagues, and use all the tools I have learned in my first five weeks being in the Senate."
Both lawmakers, however, agreed that the co-op alternative -- while worthy of further consideration -- is ultimately lacking in details. But Franken took his explanation one step further, adding: "Part of me fears that it [co-ops are] the best we can get. We know co-ops in Minnesota, but it may work better for dairy than in health care."