The latest compromise floating around Capitol Hill is from Olympia Snowe (via CongressDaily, no link):
Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, talked at length Thursday in a private meeting between members and staffers about the possibility of creating a fallback public option that only would kick in several years down the road if insurance companies are not doing their part to bring down healthcare costs and expand coverage, a Republican committee aide said. Snowe has had conversations with Senate Finance ranking member Charles Grassley and Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, about the proposal. From the Democratic side, Sens. Ron Wyden of Oregon and Thomas Carper of Delaware expressed interest in the idea Thursday, aides said.
Setting aside the political movement we've seen, with Republicans open to a public health insurance option, this so-called "trigger" compromise, which would trigger a public health insurance option if certain conditions weren't met might make sense if those conditions haven't been met yet. But they have.
Senator Schumer explained as much today on Health Care for America Now's press call announcing our report on the lack of insurance industry competition in this country (emphasis in the original):
Some who have been skeptical of a public plan have been calling for a "trigger," that would introduce a public plan some time down the road if certain conditions were met. Today's report blow away the idea that we should wait for a trigger. Today's report seems to suggest that any reasonable criteria for triggering a public plan has already been met.
After all, if we were to write a trigger into comprehensive health care reform, what would it look like? The main criteria would be market share and premium price. This report today shows that in many states, both conditions have already been met. Premiums are high, and either one or two insurers dominate the market. As we've seen with Medicare part D, a trigger option has so far meant no public option at all.
Think about it. What would the trigger be for the public health insurance option? Skyrocketing prices? Already there. No choice or competition? Already there. Denying care? Already there. As has been proven time and time again, we have a health care crisis now. Trigger conditions have long since been met.
So, proponents of a trigger are in effect saying, "Wait! The health care crisis needs to get worse. The insurance industry should be more concentrated and premiums should be higher before we give America relief."
And to that, any reasonable person would shake their head. Because we know the health care crisis isn't some far-off hypothetical, it's real and it's happening now. Every 30 seconds, another person goes into bankruptcy because of health care costs. If that's not the definition of a crisis that needs to be resolved now, then I don't know what is.
The trigger idea might have been a good one ten, twenty, or thirty years ago. But now it's too late. Trigger conditions have been met. We have a health care crisis, and those who say we should let it get worse without implementing a public health insurance option to give you and me choice and affordability deserve the ridicule they get.
Full press call audio below: