Carper's idea is modeled in some ways after Sen. Olympia Snowe's "trigger" proposal. It would implement the public option in states that fail to meet pre-determined affordability standards--and, according to Carper, could even be written to allow states that do meet the federal standard opt-in if that's what their governments choose.
The compromise will have to be sold to liberal Democrats, who think the public option has been watered down too much already.
"I have continually felt that all the choices--private and public--ought to be available from day one," Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) told me. "I have made it clear to Senator Schumer, Senator Carper, and others that I am open to a variety of approaches, but to me what this has always been about, is making sure that at the end of the day there's a way to hold insurance companies accountable."
After a brief interview with Wyden, I ran into Schumer and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) on their way into a private meeting on the first floor of the Capitol. Before walking in, Brown told me that the public option was not discussed at the weekly Democratic caucus lunch today, but suggested it might come up in their tÃªte-Ã -tÃªte. Thirty minutes later, neither senator would comment on their discussion.