A moderate Republican who has previously broken with her party to support President Obama’s $787 billion stimulus bill said Sunday that she does not support the idea of using a so called “trigger” on the public health insurance option as part of health care reform legislation.
Asked on CNN’s State of the Union if the use of the trigger would make inclusion of the public option more acceptable, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, unequivocally replied “no.”
“The problem with trigger is it just delays the public option,” Collins told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King, “because the people who are going to be making the determination about whether the market is competitive enough, want the public option.”
Note that this doesn't mean that Sen. Olympia Snowe is going to take the same position (although it doesn't mean that she'll be taking a different one, either); but Sen. Collins' position on this does make it clear that the 'public trigger' scenario for a government option in health care is not actually bipartisan. Please also note that Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D, NH) apparently needed only eight months as a Senator to forget how to answer straightforward questions in a straightforward manner:
New Hampshire Democrat Sen. Jeanne Shaheen refused to answer directly when asked whether Collins’ position indicated that President Obama should either not fight for inclusion of the public option in the final bill or, alternatively, pursue a legislative strategy that relied solely on Democratic votes for health care reform.
Again: no, really.
KING: Well, Senator Shaheen, let me come back to you. Senator Collins says she can't support even a trigger.
So does the president have to make a decision? If a moderate Republican voice like Senator Collins, who is known to try to deal with Democrats, who voted for the stimulus -- if she can't support a trigger, does the president -- has two choices, one, give it up, or two, do this with all Democrats. What should he do?
SHAHEEN: Well, first of all, I think that we're going to have a bill that has significant bipartisan input, regardless of how the votes come out.
The bill that came out of the health committee in the Senate had 167 Republican-sponsored amendments that were adopted. So there has been significant Republican input already into the legislation.
And, you know, I think -- I think we can do what Senator Collins would like to see us do, what others in the Senate have said they would like to see, with a bipartisan bill.
We can lower costs. We can improve health outcomes. Senator Collins and I have legislation that I think is going to get incorporated into the Finance Committee bill that would lower Medicare costs for people who are hospitalized. We know that a number of them go back into the hospital within 90 days. We can reduce that number. We can save $5,000 per Medicare patient. We can make them healthier. And those are the kinds of improvements we want to get into any health care bill.
And read that to see a truly entertaining comment from Sen. Collins about why the President has been losing independents.
Crossposted to Moe Lane.
[UPDATE] Oh, it gets better.
Republican Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine said there is “no way” a health-care overhaul that includes a public option can pass the Senate.
Snowe, one of six negotiators on the Senate Finance Committee, said that to gain more Republican support, President Barack Obama should explicitly drop the idea of a federally backed insurance program to compete with private insurers such as Hartford, Connecticut-based Aetna Inc.
“I’ve urged the president to take the public option off the table,” Snowe said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” program. “It’s universally opposed by Republicans,” Snowe said.
Call me nuts, but it sounds like the Democrats just ran out of possible Republicans to give them cover. Guess they're going to have to run over their own moderates to pass this health care rationing bill, then. Hey, do you know what would make currently-unhappy Republican grassroots activists smile more at their ostensible Senators? Why, those Senators shutting down the government on procedural grounds in response to the Democrats trying to ram through health care rationing via reconciliation.