Saturday 24 October 2009

Reasons to stop worrying about Snowe’s trigger

Here’s another reason why the Snowe trigger option is unlikely to go anywhere. In addition to the fact that it is really bad policy which consumers will hate, and is aimed almost entirely a single Senator…. Remember that we haven’t had a serious public discussion of the trigger yet.

There are a lot of problems with the trigger plans which folks like Snowe have proposed. They give the private insurers a free pass by raising the affordability threshold, for example by including federal aid and leaving out some of the out of pocket payments, and not accounting for inflation. We also haven’t discussed how to establish realistic performance metrics, apply them promptly, and pull the trigger promptly when needed. Then we get to the other nasty stuff: you can’t require people to buy unaffordable coverage, and the insurers will continue to jack up rates just as they promised.

Somebody should tell Rahm to stop mooning over Olympia’s picture and face the fact that opening a discussion on the Snowe trigger could add weeks or even months to the process. Reid and Pelosi are aiming to pass similar bills regarding the public option, to forestall squabbling later on, and make things go swiftly: with the public option things would happen pretty quickly, but with the trigger option, we would have to have a long discussion about how it would work, and then the House would still reject it. I think Rahm needs to realize that his strategy is out of date, now that the public option has risen from the dead.

Pelosi has acknowledged that she may have to dial down her plan from the robust option to the Schumer option and is okay with the opt-out; Clyburn expects a bill on the floor next week. In the Senate it was the idiotic AHIP attack that brought the public option back to life, and as of Saturday they are still leaning toward the public option with the opt-out, notwithstanding all the rumors regarding the White House and the trigger. The one or two Senators still dithering probably include Lincoln, Baucus, Bayh, and Nelson who actually said at one point that he couldn’t vote for a bill that had no GOP support, which is idiotic (and hopefully a reference to the bill only, not to cloture).

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