Negotiators, attempting to find a compromise alternative to the public option, have told Fox that since they are not able to figure out a way to afford a major expansion of Medicaid (beyond the 133% in the bill), they have sent a proposal to CBO that would expand community health centers.
This is a measure designed, no doubt, as a key sweetner to liberal members, like Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT, who want to see more people get insurance coverage and who are ardent proponents of the public option.
Just this week, on the Senate floor, Sanders extolled the benefits of the centers:
"What a federally qualified community health center is about...is saying that anyone in an underserved area can walk into that facility, get healthcare either through Medicaid, Medicare, private insurance, or a sliding scale. If you don't have enough money, you pay on a sliding scale basis. Low-cost prescription drugs - this is a very, very successful program that now provides health care to over 20 million americans, and it is a 40-year-old program, again supported widely in the House and the Senate."
No doubt, this could go along way toward smoothing over concerns that the public option is merely triggered at some point, should this OPM-focused national plans program not work out.