Two Steps Forward, One Step Back: Snowe Talks Triggers

This idea sort of came and went a few weeks ago, but some legislators just can’t let it go. According to the Associated Press, Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME)–a potentially key moderate on the Senate Finance Committee–hasn’t forsworn signing on to a health reform bill that includes a public option. But she’s holding out to see it affixed to a “trigger mechanism,” which would, in theory, give insurance companies a years-long window to lower costs on their own and only “trigger” the public option if they failed to do so.

“If you establish a public option at the forefront that goes head-to-head and competes with the private health insurance market … the public option will have significant price advantages,” Snowe said. But this was her argument against making the public option available as soon as the bill becomes law.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the committee’s Democratic point man on the public plan, has basically ruled this option out, as has the health reform campaign Health Care for America Now. Their principles call for a public plan available “on day one.”