Snowe Explains Her Health Care Journey

Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) wouldn't exactly say whether she'll ultimately oppose a health care bill that includes an opt-out public option today. Speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill, Snowe promised to "continue to work on issues as this bill comes to the floor." She said that she spoke to President Obama on Friday, and with Obama "basically indicating to me that it was likely you know that the public option would be considered as part of the integrated plan between the HELP and the Finance Committee but wanted to continue to work with me in the future." (BTW: This was before Democratic aides on the Hill leaked word to reporters that the White House was still trying to pressure senators to keep Snowe's "trigger" option viable.)

Snowe also described her strategy to make sure that some form of a public option _was_ included in the final bill. She said this March, "I brought it up to the president recognizing that there would be universal opposition on the Republican side of the public option that there was a way of getting there and that was using the trigger mechanism identical to the one that was used in the part D of the prescription drug benefit plan."

"I thought it was important. The president thought it was important. Chairman Baucus thought it was important to build strong bipartisan support for any health care initiative. And I saw that as a bridge for accomplishing both goals. One to make the industry perform and two to have the backstop of a public option in the event that they didn't. So I thought that that would have been sufficient rather than putting it at the forefront of the process. It really drains out any possibilities of private sector initiatives and for competition to take hold."