Emanuel Suggests White House May Support Public Option Alternatives

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July 7, 2009 5:49 a.m.

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel suggested Monday that President Obama wants competition injected into the private insurance market–even if that’s accomplished without a public option.

Republicans and conservative Democrats have proposed a small handful of alternatives to the public option–all of which have been rejected by reformers. But according to the Wall Street Journal, Obama isn’t standing so firm. “Mr. Emanuel said one of several ways to meet President Barack Obama’s goals is a mechanism under which a public plan is introduced only if the marketplace fails to provide sufficient competition on its own.” Emphasis mine.

This is the so-called trigger mechanism, and it’s been roundly rejected by reformers who view it as an escape hatch for insurers who seek to at least delay the creation of a public option. Obama’s openness to this idea puts him at odds with key Democrats in both the House and Senate. On Sunday, in words reminiscent of a pledge put forth by the campaign Health Care for America Now, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY)–a key point man on the public option–said that a public “has to be available, on the first day, to everybody…so there shouldn`t be a trigger.”

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