Senate Democrats have reached a compromise on health care reform that would forego a new public option plan in favor of a hybrid approach that would expand the use of private plans and lower the age requirement for Medicare to 55.
According to published reports, the new agreement would blend previously announced plans to use nonprofit national health plans administered by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) in tandem with an expanded Medicare program, in order to offer more Americans insurance coverage.
Earlier this week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D.-Nev.) tasked a team of 10 Democratic senators with finding a compromise to ease passage of the controversial legislation through the Senate. On Monday, the team announced a plan modeled on the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (F.E.H.B.P), which provides insurance to more than eight million federal workers through private plans, but is regulated by legislation and administered by the OPM.
According to reports, the deal also contains some new regulations for insurance companies regarding medical-loss ratio. The deal stipulates that insurers spend 90% of premium dollars on medical benefits, as opposed to administrative costs and profits.
The dropping of the public option may go along way to bringing recalcitrant moderate and conservative Democrats on board. However, a 54-45 vote in the Senate rejecting a proposal to tighten abortion limits in reform legislation calls in question whether Reid can muster enough votes to overcome Republican opposition and pass the sweeping overhaul.
"Senators are making great progress and we're pleased that they're working together to find common ground toward options that increase choice and competition," White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer said in statement.
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