September 6, 2009

It sounds like Ben Nelson is feeling the heat, because he was so adamantly opposed to the idea of a public option under any circumstances. Not that we want a trigger, but it's heartening to see our pressure is having an effect. Don't stop!

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) has long opposed a public health insurance option. In May, he expressed concern that “the public plan would be too attractive and would hurt the private insurance plans.” A Nelson spokesman even suggested that the senator would be “building a coalition opposed to the public plan.” And this past week, Nelson said health care reform “implodes” if a public option is included.

But this morning on CNN, Nelson moderated his stance ever-so-slightly. He indicated to host John King that he would support a so-called “trigger” (which would establish a public plan after a certain period of time if the private market fails to control costs):

Well I think he [Obama] has to say that if there’s going to be a public option, it has to be subject to a trigger. In other words, if somehow the private market doesn’t respond the way that it’s supposed to, then it would trigger a public option or a government-run option. But only as a fail-safe backstop to the process.

When I say trigger, out here in Nebraska and the midwest, I don’t mean a hair-trigger. I mean a true trigger — one that would only apply if there isn’t the kind of competition in the business that we believe there would be.

Howard Dean has previously said the trigger is a "terrible idea," saying insurance companies "will just change their behavior until the trigger runs out and go back to how they were."

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