September 13th, 2009
10:58 AM ET
14 years ago

Key senator rejects 'trigger' for public health insurance option

WASHINGTON (CNN) – 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.”

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.

soundoff (89 Responses)
  1. Corporate Fascists have taken over healthcare already

    These companies are like tapeworms sucking the life blood out all Americans.

    September 13, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  2. Steve851

    There are a number of Steves here with which I do not want to associate. I am in favor of universal health care, but am against everything in the current proposals. I am against the public option because it is keyed to MediCare. The literature almost universally shows that MediCare uses its monopolistic power to reimburse medical providers at less that their cost. It thereby forces everyone else to make up the difference. driving up the cost of private health insurance. By antitrust theory, the public option will be anti-competitive. Also, while I understand the frustration with dealing with private insurers, you at least have leverage there. Not only are you paying premiums, you can sue. What leverage do you have against government? None. The idea that private insurance is denying claims all over the place is not logical. A reason that private insurance premiums continue to rise is that basically, they approve anything. The "pay for anything" is also a fact of Medicare. Therefore, on an economic basis, doctors are encouraged to order anything, driving up the cost of health care even more. The limitation on copays and deductibles encourages this bad conduct. So too do the employer mandates. The pending bills are also not paid for. All of you out there who are in favor of universal health care, are you willing to contribute your fair tax share on a progressive basis. If not, you are a total something for nothng freeloader and have no ethical right to speak in favor of universal health care. The pending health care bills are the worse thing I can imagine; They do everything wrong.

    September 13, 2009 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  3. nurse

    TO Bj ....... post office , medicare , medicade , soc sec , fannie , freddie, DOT , pic any gov run ORG and show me the cost effective well run stats.? you are right . This is not about doing something for us , it's about doing something TO US.

    September 13, 2009 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  4. N

    Great idea, from reading this post, and other stories, why not just let the Democrats and President Obama, design a panel that will decide; what is a fair wage for every occupation in the United States. Let the people who you accuse of being a fraud on one day and a hero on the next, depending on the entitlement that is, decide how much a person can make in this country. After all, what is good for one is good for all correct? Sounds fair to me, after all, maybe I think that some of you are being paid too much to do the work you do, it does not have to be a couple million to be too much. We could save so much money that way. And all of the tax dollars that those people pay with those huge salaries, well we can just add that to everyone else, and spread the burden as well as the wealth.

    September 13, 2009 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  5. Ms. M

    I am a lower level, middle class single mom. I do NOT mind one bit contributing $25 a year more in taxes to help my fellow Americans (I am my brothers and sisters–no matter the skin color–keeper). I also perfer a $25 per year increase in taxes than giving more money to greedy people who are already filthy rich and only want more (insurance CEOs).

    September 13, 2009 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  6. B

    The only thing that will get the attention of the Corporate Gangsters is the Public Option, and will offer a – real option- to corporate health care monopolies!

    September 13, 2009 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  7. Hugo

    Good luck Collins, your support of the "Porkulus" bill will haunt you in your next election bid. Here is a prediction, the bulk of stimulus funds will not be released until slightly before election time. This will be done in a manner to support the Democratic campaign machine with claims from Smokin' Joe Biden of how much this money has saved our economy from an economic crisis of biblical proportion. Only the all knowing, all masterful manipulators of our Constitution could have ever prevented this disaster, praise Salinsky and his elitist followers!

    September 13, 2009 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  8. S Callahan

    Why not put it to a public referudum....let the voters decide what they really want in the privacy of a voter booth.

    Personally, the only way to lower cost, get efficency in the medical field, and accomadate the masses is through co ops.

    September 13, 2009 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  9. Annie, Atlanta

    Unless they can come up with something else to lower insurance premiums, the public option is essential. I personally prefer single payer, but that's already off the table, looks like. I agree with Senator Collins. And I'd like to add the trigger has already been squeezed. When 60% of the bankrupticies are the result of medical costs, we need to change the system. When top insurance execs are making an average of $11M a year, with tens of millions in golden parachutes, where's the justification? They're killing people, and they know it.

    September 13, 2009 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  10. J.C. - Independent & Insured

    Without the Public Option, there will be little competition and there will be no cost reduction for health care. Can you afford it?

    The tea partiers are crying out loud about spending and more spending. Would you rather give your hard earned money to private corporations or to pay for a self-sustaining Public Plan?

    If the Middle Class wants to have the least expensive Public Plan for their health care coverage, why do you want to take it away for special interests? What do you gain from it?

    The Public Plan is not for the rich nor the poor. They are already covered. The Public Plan is for the Middle Class, who earns an income more than the qualifying income for Medicaid.

    The Public Plan can reduce the number of beneficiaries of Medicaid as the poor people no longer fear losing their coverage when they get a better paid job. The Poor are not stupid. We are stupid enough to assume so and encourage them to stay in Medicaid. We need the Public Plan to size up the disappearing Middle Class for a healthier democracy.

    September 13, 2009 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  11. Lenny, Dallas

    considering that Susan Collins has collected $392,169 in political contrubutions from healthcare lobbyists (, I would not be surprised at her position.

    We all know that the "public option" will end up being better than what private health insurance offer since over 95% of what is taken in as premiums will be paid on claims as opposed to 55% – 85% currently from private companies.

    The compromise I would accept would be a "non-profit co-op" which will accomplish the same thing of spending over 95% of premiums on claims. The private companies know that they have to adjust their "marginal loss ratio" if there is a major non-profit and they will do anything to kill that idea.

    September 13, 2009 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  12. N

    It seems we also need to make public what every American has for a retirement plan. I may what the same even know that I did not work for it. This is what I am reading anyhow. If you have worked somewhere for 30 or 40 years, and have great benefits, I deserve them too, I want the same. I want to sit on my A$$ and do nothing, and collect the same benefits as the people who join the Military and Put their lives on the line for this country, and not do a darn thing for it. In fact, I want the same as the ones that end up disabled fighting for our country. And again, I don’t what to do a darn thing. I want union benefits, but I refuse to be in a union. You pay the dues and I will just reap the benefits. Sound familiar?
    Exactly what country do you want to live. I prefer to live where my choices in life can drive what I have and don’t have. Do some of you realize who you are calling free loaders, and who you are talking about when you say take away services that some people have earned? Some of you really are sick people.

    September 13, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  13. Blue

    She is out of touch. She sounds like she is falling in line with the GOP. She should remember what state that she is from.

    September 13, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  14. victim of republican greed

    Thanks to the republicans for looking out for the 'little guys' like the health insurance industry to ensure they will continue to make huge profits at the expense of the American people.

    September 13, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
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