Ross used most of the letter to strongly endorse Conrad's small state-based co-ops idea. This should surprise no one given the overwhelming evidence that Ross has being working directly and/or indirectly with Conrad to get the co-ops idea included in the House bill.
Last week, the Senate Finance Committee unveiled its health care reform bill – the fifth version of health care reform presented on Capitol Hill. The controversial government-run public option is not included. In its place is a uniquely (and familiar) American proposal - a co-op. Co-ops have been around for years and not just in health care. Many of you are probably familiar with electrical co-ops and farmers’ co-ops. As a nonprofit, member-owned group, a health care co-op would operate similarly in that they are controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting policies and making decisions, and a member-elected governance board. And, unlike private companies where voting power is based on the number of shares you own, each member gets one equal vote.(emphasis mine)
Membership would be completely voluntary and open to any individual or family interested. The co-ops could operate on state or regional levels and startup money would most likely come from the federal government through grants or loans.
It is too bad that Congressman Ross used his letter to mislead his constituents about the co-ops idea. Membership with in fact not be open to “any individual or family interested.” According to Baucus's Mark “CO-OP grantees would compete in the reformed individual and small group insurance markets.” Therefore the co-ops would not be an option for “any individual or family interested,” but would be restricted to only accepting memberships from a very small segment of the population.
Ross Admits experts believe a “co-op would need at least 500,000 members in order to succeed.” Given that Arkansas has just under 3 million people and the strong restricts placed on co-op membership, it would be nearly impossible for an Arkansas statewide co-op to ever get enough members to be viable.