I would have put a question mark in the headline, except that the quotes from the CNS News report doesn’t leave much wiggle room. Susan Collins not only categorically stated that she would block a bill that contained a public option, she invoked the failure of DirigoChoice program in Maine as the reason. Joe Lieberman, who appeared with Collins for this announcement, may have outflanked Harry Reid:
Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) repeated their opposition to a “public option” in a final Senate health care bill when CNSNews.com asked if there were any circumstances in which they would vote for cloture on the bill if it includes a government-run insurance program. …
Collins said she agreed with Lieberman and cited the failure of the government- run health insurance program in her home state of Maine.
“I do not support and think it is unwise policy to create a government-owned, government-run insurance company,” Collins said. “And it is not necessary to achieve the objective of broader coverage, lower cost, and higher quality health care system.”
Collins said the Maine program was extremely costly and only provides health care coverage for 10,000 of the 150,000 low-income people in the state who are uninsured.
“It didn’t work,” Collins said.
In fact, DirigoChoice turned out to be a disaster. It drove up insurance premiums to three times that of neighboring New Hampshire, and the costs became so prohibitive that Maine had to ration entry into DirigoChoice. Why? Government-imposed mandates on private insurance, including the community rating and guaranteed issue that Congress will demand as part of ObamaCare, made insurance a lot more costly. Those who joined DirigoChoice then began using it in the manner that third-party payer models encourage, and Maine quickly ran out of money for the program.
Anyone familiar with the failure of Maine’s DirigoChoice should be opposed to ObamaCare just on the basis of experience. Collins, who had been a potential swing vote for Democrats, has put herself in Lieberman’s camp instead. That leaves just Olympia Snowe as a Republican who might cross the aisle to compensate for the loss of Lieberman, and it seems doubtful that Snowe will cross up her Maine colleague at this point, especially since she has also vocally opposed the public option.
That may not be the only problem for Reid, either:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the chamber would take up an amendment by Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., that would strictly prohibit taxpayer money from being spent on abortion.
“I want to get it out of the way,” Reid said. “I think we all do.”
But the amendment could ultimately stand in the way of the bill’s final passage, no matter what the outcome of the Monday vote.
The decision on the abortion amendment will be a decisive moment. If it fails, anti-abortion Democrats including Nelson and Sen. Robert Casey, D-Pa., may vote against the final bill. But if the amendment passes, the party’s many senators who support abortion access, such as Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., could walk away.
Nelson’s amendment is based on a provision authored by Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., that would prevent insurance plans that received taxpayer subsidies from covering abortion. Stupak’s amendment to the House bill that passed last month has become a lightning rod on the Left.
Keep an eye on this vote today. Call your Senators and tell them that you don’t want your tax dollars funding abortions.