...In theory, it would band employers and individuals into large cooperatives to purchase health insurance, giving small businesses and individuals the same bargaining power as big companies. On the other end, it would force doctors, hospitals and insurers to form partnerships that would compete for the cooperatives' business, each trying to offer the highest-quality but least-expensive health plan.

The thinking is that such competition -- overseen by a National Health Board establishing standards for benefit plans -- would hold down medical costs yet improve health care. As for Americans currently uninsured, contributions from employers and the Government would allow them to join a cooperative.