In a town hall meeting with his constituents, Senator Conrad pushed his co-operative plan, and said that he would vote against the public option in any Senate health care package. 

CARRINGTON, N.D. — Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D. presented his cooperative health care proposal here Thursday and told an audience of 100 that he would not vote for a government-run health care program.

 The proposal has received bipartisan support for several reasons, he said. The cooperative would offer a non-profit insurance option to compete with private health care. It would not be government run, he said.

Individuals, families and small business owners could stick with their current provider, or they could opt for the cooperative plan.

This is too rich for my blood. We have a Democratic Senator, who’s been pushing the co-operative line ever since the debate over health care reform heated up earlier this spring, and he’s a part of the Senate Finance Committee that is keeping the rest of the Senate Democrats out of their caucus talks. And he knows full well that his co-op plan wouldn’t help the majority of his constituents. In what’s been leaked about the Senate Finance bill, the co-operative plan actually is a series of regional co-operatives, which wouldn’t do anything to lower health premium costs for American families.

Once again, here’s what Howard Dean said about regional co-operatives in the rumored Baucus "Fauc-Us" health care plan:

"This talk about co-ops is a political compromise it is not a policy compromise," he said, of the discussions currently underway in the Senate Finance Committee. "And I think most people, on both sides of the aisle know that co-ops won’t work."

Asked about a column by long-time Democratic strategist Paul Begala, urging progressives not to shy away from tackling health care in a more incremental approach, Dean shot back: "The public option is incrementalism…. But there is no incrementalism without the public option." He explained: "If you don’t have a public option this bill is not even incremental, in terms of adequate health care reform… Paul is not entirely wrong. It is just that the last shred of reform is the public option."

I’m with Dean on this. The reconciliation of the Senate Finance bill with other parts of the health care legislation from the HELP Committee and the House side is going to be the hardest fight we’ll be having, because the "moderates" or the Blue Dogs will possibly be working hard to replace the public option with these ineffective regional co-operatives once they get back from recess.