Has Baucus Pulled Snowe’s Trigger?

Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), perhaps the only moderate Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, predicted that the committee’s forthcoming bill will not include a public option with a trigger. (Note that even if the Finance Committee’s bill doesn’t include a public option, one could still be added later in the legislative process, with or without a trigger.)

Still, the lack of a trigger in the Senate bill would be strange, says Steve Benen of the Washington Monthly, because the trigger was Snowe’s idea.

A public option with a trigger is a compromise whereby a public system would only come into effect if private insurers failed to cut costs within a certain number of years. The alternative would be for the Finance Committee to pass a bill with no public option at all.

To progressives, adopting the “wait and see” approach is like giving Bernie Madoff another five years to run his Ponzi scheme, just to make absolutely sure he’s a crook. On the other hand, if the trigger is written fairly, we can be confident that we’ll get a public option eventually, given the insurers dismal track record for cost control and the lack of competition.

A triggered public option may also appeal to moderates looking for political cover. It lets them say “the public option if necessary, but not necessarily the public option.” If costs come down on their own, the public option won’t kick in.

If the Baucus bill doesn’t include a trigger, should we declare the idea DOA? Not necessarily, Benen explains:

So, what’s up? Is Snowe moving away from her own idea? Is the trigger done for? Not really. I did some digging on this earlier and it seems Snowe’s comments were only in the context of the Finance Committee bill, which was never likely to have a trigger anyway. Snowe brought up the idea as far back as the spring, and encouraged the Gang of Six members to consider it, but her Republican colleagues rejected it out of hand. No matter what the Finance Committee agreed to, the trigger wasn’t going to be part of the equation.

But the idea may yet gain traction, because the Finance Committee bill isn’t the be-all, end-all version of the reform legislation. More to the point, the White House is going to have a hand in the process, and if Snowe wants a trigger, and she’s the 60th vote, it may yet happen,

Meanwhile, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) announced that a strong public option would pass by Christmas. Harkin chairs the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP), so he’s in a good position to make that prediction. As chair, Harkin vows to carry on the legacy of his predecessor Sen. Ted Kennedy (D- Mass). Harkin’s Senate HELP Committee provides a liberal counterbalance to Sen. Max Baucus’s (D-Mont) more conservative Finance Committee.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about health care and is free to reprint. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of 50 leading independent media outlets.

by Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium


William C
William C4 months ago

Thanks for the information.

W. C
W. C4 months ago

Thank you for sharing.

Chad Mccrory
Chad Mccrory8 years ago

Cuba has better healthcare than the United States? That's a stupid thing to say!!! Cuba probably has one of the worst healthcare systems in the world. You have hospitals falling apart and there is no novacane at the dentist. Matter fact doctors have been fleeing Cuba since it's such a reppressive regime in turn leaving less doctors: http://townhall.com/columnists/FredThompson/2007/05/03/the_myth_of_cuban_health_care Though some of the elite in Cuba does have access to top notch medical care. Also if your talking about cuba of the 1920's, you would probably be right.

megan m.
megan m8 years ago

In regards to the ravings of Ellen and others who keep crying socialism and communism, isn't a public option actually more about True capitalism?
I mean, a public option would create REAL and fair competition by the insurance companies for customers. They'd have to stop their gang-up strategy of rejecting pre existing conditions, or unfairly charging or dropping people due to age, gender, or needed medical procedures.
The public option would set a fair standard and if the insurance companies want to keep up their profits they will have to actually earn it by engaging in a real competition. This is the only way people will have real choices, which is far from socialism and even farther from communism.

Bruce Anderson
8 years ago

In regards to Ellen Tompos' empty-hollowed remarks...who chews your words for you to swallow once they spit 'em down your throat, only to regurgitate this kind of nonsense rhetoric? You really don't know what you are espousing about. Health for anyone is a right rather than privilege and there is a huge difference between a true socialistic state and a democracy that utilizes social programs of,by and 'for' the welfare of its citizenry.

Of course in your emotional blindness you can't see this. A country is truly judged on how well it takes care of its citizens.

Besides, I'm sure when the day comes you will apply for and take social security. Isn't that socialism in your judgement? After all where do you think 'social' security derived it's name. Social security, when instituted, not one Refiblican voted for it, decrying it would turn our country into a communist state, when actually it has become woven into the fabric of America and is as American as that apple pie.

The same lines in the sand are drawn here for healthcare reform. And anyone who feels that an innocent infant should be denied healthcare for any reason, there is no sense in even debating the issue with them...they are lost.

Ellen Tompos
Ellen Tompos8 years ago

The government have to stay out of private affairs PERIOD !
the present administration pushing the country in that direction,
regardless of public opinion ! ! ,they are worst then HITTLER

Kim C.
Kim C8 years ago

Cuba has better health care than we do. Viet Nam has a much lower infant mortality rate than us.
Those who say we have the best health care in the world are failing to recognise that we have the worst ACCESS to health caer if you don't have money or really good insurance.
Health care reform needs to be done in steps not one fell swoop. Something important is going to be forgotten in the process.
To sign a statement about good health care reform go here.
www.patriotmajority.com or click on the side bar at www.wegoted.com

Helen T.
Helen T8 years ago

I am a Montana resident who has held my noe and voted for Baucus every six years because the alternatives were worse, but this is a new low even for Max. Sorry.

Theodor D.
Theodor D8 years ago

Ask Baucus whether he doesn'f find it curious that largely secular Europe long recognized the delivery of excellent health care to all a moral duty, whereas in the religion-dominated USA health care is still nothing but a lucrative, merciless business opportunity.