The only Republican to vote in favor of the Senate Finance Committee healthcare proposal said Monday she was "deeply disappointed" by the public option's inclusion in the final bill.
Although Democrats have long tried to court Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe's (R) support for their final reform effort, their announcement Monday that they intend to pursue an "opt-out" public option despite her initial objections signifies the party is ready to proceed without her.
“I am deeply disappointed with the Majority Leader’s decision to include a public option as the focus of the legislation," Snowe said in a statement.
Snowe broke rank and supported Democrats when the Senate Finance Committee voted on Chairman Max Baucus' (D-Mont.) mark earlier this month -- a decision that brought the centrist Republican considerable scrutiny and scorn.
But Snowe's support for the public option in particular has been mostly limited to that of her "trigger" proposal, which would permit the government to establish its own insurance plan only if private insurers failed to lower months premiums or insure more Americans by a specified deadline.
Democrats mulled that idea for quite some time, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) made clear at a press conference earlier this afternoon that his chamber was no longer pursuing the idea -- a move, he acknowledged, that could lose him Snowe's key vote once his party's bill reaches the Senate floor.
"I spoke to Olympia on Friday," Reid said. "And so we'll have to move forward on this, and there comes a time, I hope, where she sees the wisdom of supporting a health care bill after having had an opportunity, her and others, to offer amendments."
Snowe said little about a possible amendment in her statement, issued later in the day. But she did affirm that she stands by her original public option "trigger" proposal, which she has long advocated as a sufficient, bipartisan compromise.
"I still believe that a fallback, safety net plan, to be triggered and
available immediately in states where insurance companies fail to offer
plans that meet the standards of affordability, could have been the
road toward achieving a broader bipartisan consensus in the Senate,” she said.