STARK HOLDS FIRM IN QUEST FOR HEALTH CARE REFORM WITH PUBLIC OPTION
In the latest sign Democrats in Washington are easing away from achieving bipartisan support for health care reform, Rep. Pete Stark had pointed remarks reserved for opponents of various plans in the House, especially those backing the latest nouveau plan--health co-ops.
During a teleconference with reporters, Stark harshly questioned the viability of medical co-ops recently discussed by various Senate Democrats, equating the proposal with belief in a mythical medieval creature, according the Huffington Post.
"But, as I say, there is no real example of either the regulation, or how you would establish them, or where they would get enough people to have a purchasing base. So you might as well talk about unicorns." Stark said, "You know, what is a medical unicorn? My kids all know what a unicorn is. But you don't. You have never seen one. So I think this co-op is just a way of ducking the issue of having the public plan."
He also questioned one of the backers of the plan and his political gravitas representing what Stark said "less than three percent of the rural constituency." At a town hall meeting before the Alameda Democratic Club Aug. 12, Stark also challenged another of the co-ops supporters, Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.).
"I would debate Max Baucus on the issue of health care any day, anytime, anywhere and bet money before the debate--my money," Stark said to applause from the decidedly progressive audience.
During the same conference, the AP reported Stark called Blue Dog moderates in his own party "brain dead." He recently referred to them as "bed-wetters" and questioned whether their intentions were genuine. "They're for the most part, I hate to say, brain dead, but they're just looking to raise money from insurance companies and promote a right-wing agenda that is not really very useful in this whole process."
In recent days, Democrats have quietly discussed the notion of passing a health care reform bill without help from Republicans. The loss of Sen. Edward Kennedy this week to brain cancer may make reaching 60 votes without bipartisan support from Republicans may be difficult, but not untenable.
The issue of medical co-ops is in some ways a relic of the Great Depression where local communities banded together to create affordable services where none previously existed. Two notable health care versions still exist in Minnesota and the Puget Sound area near Seattle.
Stark recently called the Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound "not very successful" and mocked its rural roots by describing it as "all our neighbors getting together like a barn-raising. We're all going to get together, hold hands and sing 'Kumbaya' and give everybody health care," he said, "I don't think they are the end-all and be-all for the way to deliver medical care."