Grassley on Schumer Health Care Plan: It’s “Obnoxious”

By Gorman Gorman

Jun 11, 2009 2:49pm

ABC News’ David Chalian Reports:  </p

 A key Senate Republican attempting to achieve a bipartisan health care reform bill indicates that there are some clear red lines over which his fellow Republicans will likely not cross.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, said one “public option” compromise floated by his Democratic colleague Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) appears to be a non-starter for most Republicans.   The key component of the Schumer proposal is to create a public option, unlike Medicare, that is self sustaining by paying out its claims from funds raised by patient premiums and co-payments.

“I think he’s putting some ingredients in there that are going to make it just as obnoxious to people in my party as they whole concept of a public option,” said Sen. Grassley on ABC News’ “Top Line.”

“And you know why we don’t want a public option. We think that it’s going to control costs, it’s going to be an unfair competitor. It’s a back door to single payer like Canada has and that’s a road to denial and delay of health care or rationing, whatever you want to call it. And middle class of American won’t stand for that,” he added.

On Wednesday, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND), proposed an alternative to the public option by calling for the creation of nonprofit cooperatives, owned and operated by their members, to compete with private insurers.  The proposal was met with apparent interest as a possible compromise by Sen. Grassley.
 
“The reason why it’s helpful to have cooperatives is because in a lot of states, there’s only one or two health insurance companies, even though we have 350 nationwide, each state has a limited number. . . and they tend to control the market.  And this would give some competition,” Grassley said.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Huffington Post that she would not have the votes to pass health care reform in the House if it does not include a public option.

At her weekly press conference, Speaker Pelosi also said that the Conrad cooperative proposal would not be seen as an acceptable substitution for a public plan among her Democratic members.

Sen. Grassley also defined what has to happen in the shaping of health care reform policy in order to get many Republicans on board with the plan.   His three red lines: No public option, no employee mandate to either provide insurance or pay a penalty, and nothing that leads to rationing of health care.

“If those three things are taken care of, we can have a bipartisan plan,” Grassley said.

Read all of the health care tea leaves here:

Politico’s Jonathan Martin also dropped by “Top Line” with his take on how Creigh Deeds demolished his Democratic competition in Virginia and the strategy behind President Obama’s health care road trip.

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