Oct 14, 2009 10:51 AM by Associated Press
The only Republican to vote for the Finance Committee's health care bill says she opposes a government-run health insurance option, unless private insurers fail to do their part.
Sen. Olympia Snowe says the private insurance market has to offer health coverage that's more widely accessible and affordable. If it doesn't deliver, she says, she could support a public option that would kick in as a backup plan.
The Maine Republican has previously proposed using the public option as an incentive, or a threat, to private insurers who don't make their plans affordable by certain deadlines.
Snowe's comments in broadcast interviews come as Senate leaders go behind closed doors to try to merge two very different bills into a new version that can get the 60 votes needed to guarantee passage.
Meanwhile, Maine's other Republican senator says she's open to voting for a sweeping health care overhaul this year.
Susan Collins says the status quo is unaccaptable, but she has serious concerns about the version that cleared the Finance Committee yesterday. She fears the coverage won't be affordable for many families and small businesses, and the proposed Medicare cuts are too deep.