Health Debate Now Hinges on Public Option

Obama, Reid warm to Snowe 'trigger' plan phased in state by state
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 15, 2009 7:22 AM CDT
Health Debate Now Hinges on Public Option
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., talks with Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2009.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

The White House and Congress are now wrangling to reconcile the five health care bills on the floors of the House and Senate, and no issue is causing greater headaches than the so-called public option. The Senate Finance Committee's bill, which has the support of Republican Olympia Snowe, doesn't have one, but the Maine senator says she favors a "trigger" that would establish a public plan on a state-by-state basis if private plans aren't affordable enough. The White House likes the idea, but liberal Dems worry about Snowe's growing clout.

President Obama had favored a government plan, as an option for the uninsured, to prompt competition. But in private he has smiled upon Snowe's idea, which would introduce public plans state by state whenever 5% or more of the population can't afford care. Harry Reid calls the trigger option "a pretty doggone good idea," but Rep. Raúl Grijalva, who's leading the push for a public option in the House, worries that "the administration has put her in the driver’s seat. It’s very disconcerting." (Read more Olympia Snowe stories.)

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