Are Health Care “Co-Ops” Good Enough?

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

I just got booted from a conference call with Jacob Hacker, the Yale political scientist widely considered to be the brain behind the “public option” component of health care reform. Ayo, I’m tired of using technology. But before I was so rudely and abruptly removed, I got a chance to listen to Hacker slam the so-called health care “co-ops,” which the Senate Finance committee is reportedly considering as an alternative to the public option.

Hacker said the public plan is a “crucial linchpin” of health care reform, and “co-ops should not be seen as a substitute for the public plan because they are not a serious way to provide public option’s three main goals.” Those three main goals, Hacker says, are the “three Bs”: a Benchmark for prices, a Backup for patients, and a Backstop for cost-control.

Hacker argues that co-ops wouldn’t be able to meet his goals for the public option because they “won’t be effective in competing with private insurance plans.” That, of course, is the larger point of the public option—competing with private insurance. But not everyone (especially not the insurance companies) wants the private plans to have to compete with anything. They barely compete with each other now. So co-ops that would face huge problems entering the market might be just the thing—if you want to keep the insurance companies happy.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend