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.”
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.
“I think we’re going to have a bill that has significant bipartisan input regardless of how the votes come out,” Shaheen told King.
The Democrat, who supports the public option, also said Sunday that it was important to stay focused on the big picture when it comes to health care reform. “We want to get competition in the health insurance market. We want to make sure that people who can afford health insurance are going to have an affordable option that they can use. We want to improve health outcomes for people. And we want to, long term, lower the cost of health care,” Shaheen said.
The use of a trigger on the public option has emerged as a compromise position in recent weeks that might allow moderates in both parties to support health care reform while appeasing liberals in the House Democratic Caucus who strongly favor the inclusion of a public insurance plan.
The trigger proposal has been supported by Sen. Olympia Snowe, another moderate Republican from Maine who is also involved in bipartisan negotiations on the Senate Finance Committee. Snowe has reportedly discussed her proposal directly with the White House and the Obama administration appears to be courting Snowe in particular to give the Senate bill nominal bipartisanship. Snowe, like Collins, broke with Republicans earlier this year to support Obama’s massive stimulus package.
Updated: 10:58 a.m.