Snowe: Public Option the Breaking Point

Sen. Olympia Snowe may have been the lone Republican on the Senate Finance Committee to approve that panel's health care bill, but she plans to draw the line at the public option as the legislative process continues.

"Because I prefer in utilizing the private sector as we do in this legislation that doesn't include a public option. I think the government would have a disproportionate advantage in the marketplace against private insurers," Snowe, R-Maine, told "Early Show" co-anchor Harry Smith Wednesday. "But at the same time, I want to make sure the insurance industry performs and that's why we eliminate and prohibit many egregious practices."

Appearing later ABC's "Good Morning America," Snowe said that if the insurance industry failed to live up to the new standards, "then you could have the public option kick in immediately."

The Finance Committee in a 14-9 vote Tuesday. While it's considered the most moderate of the five plans voted through various congressional committees, it must be merged with the other legislation before coming to a wider vote in the Senate. Snowe said her initial vote is no guarantee of future support, depending on how the plan changes during the .

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Health Care Progress Report: Oct. 13

Snowe said the fact that she was the only Republican to vote the plan out of committee doesn't mean there aren't points of agreement between the two parties.

"Everybody, obviously, has an opinion, a viewpoint [on health care]- we're all affected by it in one way or the other. … So we couldn't culminate a result or agreement didn't mean to say there weren't places where we couldn't agree.

Snowe said she "felt it was important to move this process forward" and that lawmakers "at least have to try given the urgency and the crisis that exists within health care today."

The Finance Committee's bill was a "good place to start," Snowe told ABC.

Snowe failure to achieve reform would be "disastrous" for the country and likened health care's rising costs to a "death spiral." She said all lawmakers would share responsibility for not passing a plan.

"Well, I think we all will, absolutely, if we don't contribute to a result," Snowe said. "And that means both sides. And I would hope that the Democrats would include Republican ideas. It's not a question of who is giving the idea, it's whether or not it's a good idea."

  • Daniel Carty

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