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The National Cooperative Business Association confirmed that the general profile of cooperatives has risen significantly as part of the ongoing debate over health care reform.The NBCA reported that it has been contacted by members of Congress seeking answers about health care cooperatives as the nation struggles to reform its health care system.Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) and Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) have both contacted the NCBA with questions about health care cooperatives, how they work, how they’re structured and their advantages and disadvantages. Conrad has suggested using a cooperative structure to help reduce the cost of health care.“Whether or not the final product contains health care cooperatives or not,” said NCBA CEO Paul Hazen, “it’s never bad to have cooperatives leading stories on the front pages of The Washington Post, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.”He also acknowledged that the increased attention has shined a bright light on just how many people are confused about what cooperatives are, how they are structured and the benefits they offer.“We view all of this as an opportunity to highlight and explain cooperatives,” Hazen said, stressing that the cooperative would not be the “magic bullet” that would solve the nation’s health care woes.“Part of the problem is that people have been comparing apples and oranges in the health cooperative discussion,” Hazen explained. He added that there are some health cooperatives that actually own hospitals and pay doctors for their members. There are also health care insurance cooperatives and straight mutual insurance companies that are cooperative in structure but generally don’t sell their own health insurance, Hazen explained.–[email protected]

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