I read with concern yesterday that one of the victims of the recent fiscal cliff deal was the program funding the creation of new non-profit health insurance carriers. Consumer Operated and Oriented Plans, CO-OPs for short, were meant to provide some much-needed competition to the private carriers on the health insurance exchanges and keep premiums more affordable.
At least, that was the theory.
But now Congress has sliced the program’s budget from $6 billion to $2.4 billion. And the money is in the form of loans, not grants. Besides the many other challenges facing these start-ups, they have a very short time frame in which to pay back the loans.
Critics believe the Obamacare architects were never serious about supporting these non-profit health insurance carriers. And since one of the major architects, Elizabeth Fowler, worked for WellPoint, the largest private health insurance in the country before becoming “chief health policy counsel” to the Senate Finance Committee, who can blame them?