Federal Testimony: The Potential of Co-op Plans to Provide Quality Health Coverage

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<p>To provide Americans with a range of quality health insurance options, the Affordable Care Act authorizes $6 billion for the development of new nonprofit health cooperatives to be sold as qualified health plans through the new state insurance exchanges and the individual and small-group insurance markets.</p>
<p>In her <a href="/publications/publication/2011/jan/testimony-consumer-operated-and-oriented-plan-co-op-program-under">invited testimony</a> before the Federal Advisory Board on the Affordable Care Act's CO-OP Program, Sara R. Collins, Ph.D., a Commonwealth Fund vice president and expert on health insurance issues, said that the new health plans hold promise to provide efficient, high-quality care that responds to consumers' needs. But to succeed, she said, co-op plans will need to reach sustainable membership levels, secure adequate purchasing leverage in their markets, link with integrated care systems, and appropriately manage risk. </p>
<p>In her testimony, Collins also highlighted the characteristics of successful regional health cooperatives currently in operation, including HealthPartners in Minneapolis–St. Paul and Group Health Cooperative in Seattle—both of which are affiliated with high-performing integrated care systems that ensure patients enjoy reliable access to efficient, well-coordinated care.</p>
<p>"The concept of health cooperatives envisions mission-driven health plans that are accountable to their members and the public interest for providing accessible, high quality, and affordable care," Collins said. "With exchanges and other provisions of the Affordable Care Act, states, with the support of federal legislation, have the potential to hold all plans and care systems accountable to these goals."<br /><br /></p>