Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Obama Ready For Another Round of Bipartisanship

The so-called bipartisan Republican Senators Charles Grassley and Mike Enzi embarrassed the White House by revealing they were never committed to a health care bill. Grassley spreaded the death panel myth. Enzi admitted his only goal was to delay a health care bill. CNN's Ed Henry reports Obama is now reaching out to Olympia Snowe.

My colleague Dana Bash and I have learned from a source, each one of us, that this White House right now is very quietly in serious conversations with Republican Senator Olympia Snowe, a key moderate.

She is basically the last Republican out of those gang of six senators who have been negotiating, really the last Republican that has an open line to this White House right now.

What we're hearing that she's talking about with White House staff is sort of a scaled-back bill that would focus on insurance reforms that both sides could agree to, but would not have a full public option, instead, would have a so-called trigger. What that means in layman's terms is basically that the insurance companies would have a couple of years to make some dramatic changes.

If they do not make those changes, then a public option would be triggered. So, it would be used down the road. They would hope that this would appease liberals by saying it's not completely off the table. And the big hope is that this could bring along another moderate Republican, like maybe Susan Collins of Maine, some conservative Democrats, like Ben Nelson and Mary Landrieu in the Senate, who don't want a public option, but would sort of potentially be open to a trigger like this.

The trigger means there will be a delay of years into taking action on health care. If costs run too high then a trigger mechanism will take effect. Costs of private insurance are already out of control. The Kaiser Family Foundation chart shows premiums rising 68.2 percent from 2001 to 2006.

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