U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid won’t be getting Sen. Olympia Snowe’s vote on his health care reform bill, which includes a government-run insurance option.
Snowe was the only Republican on the Senate Finance Committee to vote to advance health care legislation earlier this month. But she told The Associated Press on Friday that she won’t vote to proceed with Reid’s bill as it is now crafted with a “public option” with a provision that allows states to opt out.
Snowe prefers a “trigger” that would allow a government plan as a safety net only if the private market fails to lower costs on its own.
Snowe said she has concerns that an outright government option would drive out private insurers before they have the chance to perform under a restructured market. Just the threat of a government plan would force insurers to come up with more affordable plans, she said.
Reid’s bill, she said, doesn’t address the goal of lower health care costs.
“It sounds good, but mechanically and philosophically it doesn’t address the central goal of this legislation, which is to make sure people have affordable choices,” Snowe said.
The bill crafted by Reid, D-Nev., is expected to go to the Democratic-controlled Senate in the next two or three weeks.
Snowe said centrist Democrats would play a pivotal role in how the bill proceeds. She hopes changes are made to the bill before it goes to debate.
“It’s not clear he has the votes for the motion to proceed,” she said.
Reid spokesman Jim Manley said the lines of communication are open regarding health care legislation.
“Senator Reid will continue to reach out to Senator Snowe and any other Republicans that have a sincere interest in passing a health reform bill,” Manley said.
Snowe, who has been a key figure in shaping federal health care legislation, said she doesn’t plan to offer an amendment to Reid’s bill because it wouldn’t get enough votes to pass.