Conrad rejects reports that he's abandoned co-op model

The compromise on healthcare is still moving toward a cooperative model, Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) said Tuesday, rejecting reports that he'd moved sharply to support a public option in healthcare reform legislation.

Conrad pushed back against reports that he and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.D.) had moved closer to a deal to bring the centrist Conrad on board to support a public (or "government-run") option for consumers.

Media outlets had quoted Conrad as saying he could support elements of a public plan, but Conrad said he had been referring to his proposed model of establishing consumer-run cooperatives as a compromise between Democrats and Republicans.

"What is wrong is the interpretation of what that means," Conrad said of how he qas quoted during an appearance on MSNBC. "What Senator Schumer was discussing was changes to the co-op plan. He wasn't talking about a pure public option. He was talking about changes to the co-op plan."

Conrad said that the co-op model was "probably the preferred option" in terms of what will go in the final version of healthcare legislation, and that Schumer has been discussing building on -- not rejecting -- that model.

"What we're trying to do is capture the strengths of public option, that is a nonprofit insurance provider, but also meet the objections of those who are against anything that's government controlled," Conrad said. "So what we're trying to do is have the strengths of a nonprofit intermediary, a cooperative, something that's well known."