September 13th, 2009
10:58 AM ET
12 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. jeff

    Before people talk about health care reform why isn't there a national effort to combat type II diabetes, reduce obesity and get people to quit smoking? No matter which political party you side with, we all would benefit from the savings associated with preventing these types of conditions. Perhaps, our president could stand up in front of the nation and promise to quit smoking and lead by example

    September 13, 2009 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  2. Steve Lyons

    Just last night I say four different advertisements from separate law firms soliciting clients to sue the pharmaceutical companies of side effects of their drugs. Now I know these firms are after millions in fees for themselves at the expense of the drug companies, which will no doubt increase costs for all of us. We need to put an end to the endless lawsuits over drugs and instead sue the FDA for not doing their job of properly testing and reviewing drugs before they are allowed on the market. But more importantly we need to eliminate the incentive for lawyers to sue so frequently and cap their fees at $500,000 per case or per class action. Defense expenses need to be limited to $500,000 per case or per class action as well. Level the playing field and CAP THE COSTS.

    September 13, 2009 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  3. economist

    It should be clear to anyone paying attention that the republicans have *no intention* of accepting a compromise. The only goal of their party, now, is pure obstruction.

    September 13, 2009 11:47 am at 11:47 am |

    Once again the REPUBLICANS show that they are not able to face sthe facts that reform must happen now. Shame on those that would seek to prevent the average Amreican health care just to score points against Obama.

    Health Care is more importnt than political posturing.

    September 13, 2009 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  5. ImaLindatoo


    -"New Hampshire Democrat Sen. Jeanne Shaheen,
    “I think we’re going to have a bill that has significant bipartisan input regardless of how the votes come out,” Shaheen told King."

    And what the heck does THAT mean? Now every Democrat, like Obaa, talking out of both sides of their mouth.

    ....regardless that the vote will be party lines, it will have both parties support?

    September 13, 2009 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  6. Lil Jimmy

    I just don't understand the BIG rush to get something through. No matter what passes they all have it so it doesn't take affect till 2013, after the next presidential election. If the plans are so good and Obama wants them, enact them immediately and lets see how they succeed or fail. It is purposely after the election so it has no affect on the election other than " I passed health care reform.

    September 13, 2009 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  7. Moosehead

    AMERICANS want the public option,.. the insurance companies and their paid political servants do not. Enough said.

    September 13, 2009 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  8. brian

    And if you watched the show as I did - you also saw her position was dismantled factually and piece by piece by the other guests becuase the only reason she gives is her constituents are opposed. well, that may be true but that's because they don't understand that without the provision of a public plan to introduce competition into monopolized markets, you would push more people into paying monopoly rates rather than pushing more people into a system that pushes costs of premiums down. the point was also made that individuals and small businesses can get pooled to increase leverage with the public option. if they're going to a large monopoly insurer with 15 employees, what rate do you think they're going to pay? we need to do what works here and the public option will work to create competition where large insurers have swallowed the smaller ones whole.

    September 13, 2009 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  9. Keith in Austin

    Most intelligent folks know the ulterior motive of the Democratic Party and their desire to gain control of Healthcare. 20 percent of the economy, higher taxes,more Americans dependant on the Federal Government to ensure votes and everlastic power, support of socialistic ideology etc.

    I understand why those unwilling to work or wanting handouts support more government entitlements but why in the World would ANY self-responsible American support this Agenda?

    September 13, 2009 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  10. J Williamson

    Pres. Obama has bent over backwards (and the some!) to get Republicans involved in this health care process, but in the end he'll only receive accusations that he "wouldn't work with them." I doubt that he'll get a single vote from any of them when it comes down to it. Bill Clinton didn't get a since Republican vote for his tax plan in the early 1990's – it barely passed and was considered to be critical to the economic boom of that decade. Later, Republicans would try and claim credit for it anyway.

    September 13, 2009 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  11. best sellers list

    The people at the rallies were paid company shills,they are worse than the overpaid union workers,making blood money from average Americans.

    September 13, 2009 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  12. ejmounsey Granville Ohio

    Government is held accountable to the public every two years by an election. Insurance companies are accountable only to the share holders, who care most about their dividends. I hope the public option is passed.

    September 13, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  13. Mike1952

    Ignorance of how markets work in a capitalist country is an indictment against our public education system. They are teaching our kids to be socialist and anti-capitalist. I am appalled that the simplest facts about economics go so misunderstood by so many. Ignorance is not bliss. The liberals are so against monopoly yet they would allow the government exactly that in the "public option".

    The only governance to control the federal government is the people. If we want societal warfare and chaos, let BO have his way. That's his goal. All the while the sheep are led to slaughter. His tactics are so sneaky. He pits us against each other with these radical proposals that the left buys sight unseen and the conservatives abhor. While he sits back and watches the chaos develop. When we have chewed each other up he'll declare an emergency and then look out.

    September 13, 2009 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  14. Angie in Pa

    Its CLEAR Republicans DO NOT WANT TO BE BI-PARTISAN They do not want to work with the President they have one goal only TO DESTROY PRESIDENT OBAMA AND THE DEMOCRATS They dont care if your denied coverage they dont care if you cant get Health Insurance they are only caring about their party right now and regaining power PARTY BEFORE COUNTRY !!!!

    September 13, 2009 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  15. YBM

    Lydia September 13th, 2009 11:21 am ET

    What's wrong with a public option??? I want a public option. Why does that make me a horrible hater of my country?

    March and picnic for a public option today in NYC.
    If you had read it, you would know what is wrong with it. You sheeple need to learn to read and think rather than just follow along like lemmings.

    September 13, 2009 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  16. Bj

    The uninformed continue to rant about the obscene profits made by the health care industry, yet the fact is the major Health insurance companies in this country make on average 3% profit. How is this in any way "huge".

    September 13, 2009 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  17. nurse

    The republicans want to drop gov restrictions for insurance between states, That in itself would "lower costs and increase competition " ( you know ... what obama says ) and they could do it with out gov take over . But after all ... it is about take over , isn't it ?

    September 13, 2009 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  18. Aubrey

    Roger- I have said the exact same thing regarding my own health care. I honestly don't see how public health insurance could be any scarier than the private insurance bozos I've had to deal with- and I'm only 22 years old!

    September 13, 2009 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  19. Follow the money

    Looks like Susan hit the big time.She waited to see who could fill her bag with the most money, for her vote.Money sure can buy anything cant it?

    September 13, 2009 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  20. Georgia

    1. The name-calling from extreme right and left is becoming very tiresome. If you cannot think of anything to say without getting personal and calling people names, you are admitting you have lost the argument.

    2. Several people on various sites say things like "old racist white people." While I tend to believe that if President Obama were not bi-racial and brown-skinned, the invective against him would drop by at least half, I just want to point out that a great many "old" people like me - 66, white, and on Medicare - are not ill-informed and blindly reaching for our tea-bags. A great many of us understand very well how important health care reform is for everyone. I am indeed very sorry to see so many middle-aged and older people shouting down their representatives so that no one else can get a word in, but please do not let reform opponents succeed at more divide-and-conquer tactics by driving a wedgle between older and younger populations. I believe that is part of the plan to bring down President Obama at all costs.

    September 13, 2009 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  21. Bj

    The real question that people should be asking is not whether this will add to the deficit, but how much are the policies going to cost under a public option, and how much are the democrats going to raise taxes on the middle class, because this plan can't happen without a substantial tax increase, and it won't be just on people making over 250,000 a year. Everyone is going to pay more for premiums, and higher taxes.

    September 13, 2009 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  22. Where are the Antitrust Laws?

    These healthcare have a monopoly going and set prices.There is no free enterprize,its all smoke and mirrors.Lets bring them down to size.

    September 13, 2009 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  23. stormerF

    Collins has seen the light,Now to convince Snowe,That if Pelosi is for it it is not a good idea.

    September 13, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  24. Larry - Hazleton, pa

    I must really be stupid as I clearly do not understand the many comments on this subject as just saying everyone should just get a job and pay for there on health insurance – Let me see here – just get a job – what about the 9.7% unemployed? what about the minumum wage earners who clearly could not afford to pay? what about those who are em plyed whoes employers who do not offer? these are just a few questions that I need answer by those who think that it so simple to just get a "JOB" Finally, what about those who cannot buy the insurance because the insurance will not sell to them? This was the case with my mother – for all of life she could not get health insurance at any price – when she past away it cost the taxpayers over 150,000 in the final month of her life – what about this? If only it were so simple to just get a "JOB".

    September 13, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  25. Steve Lyons

    Health insurance and heath care are NOT one in the same. Health care comes from doctors, nurses, clinics, and hospitals. Insurance is a middle man industry that pools assets and risks. Health care providers pay huge insurance premiums. Eliminate that cost. Lawyers collect huge huge huge fees, let's eliminate that expense. Let's force the competition by making all insurance companies operate from a unified pool of their enrollments and prohibit them from denying coverage to anyone. If one company gets too expensive, people will change carriers and be allowed to do so without any restrictions. Eventually the cost pools will be equal. But no forced enrollment. That's a communist concept.

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