Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Jim Cooper, Key Conservative Democrat, Backs Public Health Care Option

A key conservative House Democrat threw his support on Monday to a public health care option without a so-called 'trigger' that could prevent it from being implemented.

'I'm for a public option. I like Chuck Schumer's approach. It does not have a trigger in it,' said Rep. Jim Cooper (Tenn.), the vice chairman of the Blue Dog Health Care Task Force.

When a second constituent asked him to clarify if that meant he supported the public option without a trigger, he responded, "My preferred position is to support Senator Chuck Schumer's plan for the public option. That has no trigger in it. I think he has done the best job so far being a senior senator and in leadership and much closer to the White House than I am."

A public option -- without a trigger -- is the top priority for health care reformers. The insurance industry and most Republicans are determined to keep that from happening. The public option would be available to anyone and would compete unsubsidized with private plans.

Cooper's support of a public option is significant, not just because of his elevated position in the Blue Dog coalition, but also because of his background in health care policy. Cooper has been teaching health care law and regulation for 12 years and is an expert in Medicare and Medicaid policy.


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