In an Associated Press interview in Portland, Snowe said it would be unfair to include a government-run health insurance option that would take effect immediately.

“If you establish a public option at the forefront that goes head-to-head and competes with the private health insurance market … the public option will have significant price advantages,” she said.

Responding to Snowe’s comments, Schumer spokesman Brian Fallon said the Democrat will continue to seek a consensus with Republicans but believes there must be a public option that “is available to all Americans from the first day.”

Snowe is seen as a key swing vote on health care. She was the committee’s only Republican who declined to go on record as opposing the public option.