The public option is likely a deal breaker for Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), the sole Republican who voted for healthcare reform in the Finance Committee yesterday.
In a number of interviews this morning, Snowe, whose vote is seen as crucial for passing legislation, said she would not vote for a final bill that contains a government-run insurance plan.
"The public option would be problematic," Snowe told MSNBC's Morning Joe when asked what changes to the bill could cost Democrats her vote. "As I've said I'm against a public option because I think the government would be another vast new bureaucracy, and also create a disproportionate advantage in the marketplace. And inevitably government's not going to do it better."
At the same time, Snowe hinted she'd be open to a public option trigger that would implement a government plan only if the private sector fails to provide competition.
If the insurance industry doesn't respond to reform, "then you could have the public option kick in immediately," she told ABC's Good Morning America.
The Finance Committee bill that Snowe voted for did not include a public option, and she emphasized that her vote on committee did not necessarily indicate how she'd vote on a final bill.
Snowe also indicated opposition to a "opt-out" public plan that would allow states to choose whether to participate.
"I have concerns about that because that could be another way of opting into having a public option plan all across the country," Snowe told ABC.
Liberal Democrats are urging Majority Leader Harry to include the public option when he merges the Finance Committee legislation with the HELP Committee bill.
"Well, first leader Reid has the option of putting [the public option] in the final bill. If he puts it in the final bill, in the combined bill, then you would need 60 votes to remove it," Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told MSNBC last night. "There are clearly not 60 votes against the public option. And so we’re urging him to do that, and he is seriously considering it."