GOP congressman: co-ops would only lead to public option

A healthcare bill establishing cooperatives would be a step along the path to establishing a public (or "government-run") insurance option for Americans, one Republican congressman asserted Thursday.

Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.), echoing GOP talking points that the public option would inevitably lead to a single-payer system, said that establishing healthcare cooperatives would eventually lead to the public option, and so on.

"I don't really see how that changes the playing field any," Garrett said during an appearance on CNBC when asked about the prospects for co-ops. "The cooperatives would be one step to get us to this bill, and then this bill would get us to the single-payer system."

Co-ops have been floated as a potential compromise to win centrist Democrats' and Republicans' support for a healthcare reform package in Congress before the end of the year.

That proposal's chances, though, have been somewhat hurt by liberals' unwillingness to abandon the public option, and Republicans' attacks on the cooperatives.

"The cooperatives has no difference in effect that the government would still be able to initiate and subsidize their system vis-a-vis the private sector, and the private sector will be squeezed out," said Garrett, a member of the House committees on the Budget and Financial Services.