Co-ops express concern about Baucus health care plan


by Lee Egerstrom, September 18, 2009 • As it turns out, its not just people on the sidelines who are bewildered by the Senate Fiannce Committee’s (Baucus Plan) health care proposal that would use co-ops as a replacement for a federal health insurance option.

The National Cooperative Business Association said late Thursday it was still studying the proposal. But, it added, “we and other cooperatives have reason to be concerned.”

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While NCBA is in the business of promoting co-op development, it noted that the term “co-op” in the Senate plan is actually an acronym for Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan.

That doesn’t make these new health care organizations a co-op, and NCBA noted that it doesn’t specify who will own the businesses and doesn’t provide standards of governance or protection from demutualization in the future if insurance companies go on an acquisition frenzy.

Meanwhile, the umbrella organization for co-ops will continue to study the Senate plan even as it continues to protect the use of the term cooperative for member-owned and controlled business enterprises.