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October 23 2009

Trigger Finger

Nicole Kurokawa Neily

Reports are trickling from Congress that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi lacks the votes for a "robust" government-run public option - but don't celebrate yet, because it's still likely to end up in a final bill in an indirect manner, via the delayed "trigger" option.

From Politico:

Administration officials have been telling POLITICO for weeks now that this the most likely compromise because it can probably satisfy liberals-albeit only reluctantly and after many vent frustration and some even threaten to walk away from the bill.

This would clear the way for backers to sneak a limited public option through the Senate by attracting moderate Democrats and then to win President Barack Obama's signature.

Obama told Democratic leadership at the White House Thursday evening that his preference is for the trigger championed by Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) - a plan that would allow a public plan to kick in if private insurers don't expand coverage fast enough, a top administration official told POLITICO. It's also sign Obama is interested in maintaining a sense of bipartisanship around the health reform plan.

That line "if private insurers don't expand coverage fast enough" is crucial to note - because the government will be defining what "fast enough" means, as well as how much more expanded coverage will need to be. Think insurers will get points for trying, and even marginally expanding coverage? Think again.

A significant part of the currently uninsured population choose to be uninsured because of the cost of health insurance. As the health reform proposals currently on the table are expected to drive up the cost of health insurance even further, according to new studies released by WellPoint and Price Waterhouse Coopers, those individuals are still unlikely to opt for pricy coverage. And voila! The trigger kicks in.

As we've written before, sustainable health care reform will tackle health care reform by addressing affordability - through the expansion of high-deductible health savings accounts; medical malpractice reform; cutting waste, fraud, and abuse in existing government health care programs (Medicare and Medicaid); allowing interstate purchasing of insurance; and reducing the number of mandates in policies. And of course, allowing the economy to right itself, not burdening Americans with additional penalties, fees, and taxes.

IIndependent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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