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By Juliet Eilperin and John Amick

State of the Union: Nelson Backs 'Trigger' Option

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) backed the health-care reform plan du jour, a "trigger" option that would place mandates on insurance companies to cover more Americans over the next five years before a public option would be implemented.

Nelson, on CNN's "State of the Union," advocated an incremental approach in changing the health insurance structure, all the while insisting on more competition and focus on preventive measures to help drive down costs. Nelson's main critique of the Obama administration's handling of reform: The president didn't make clear how reform would impact those already insured. Those who believe something would be taken from them were the most worried and most disruptive, Nelson said.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) said the "trigger" option simply "kicks the can down the road," and delays the inevitable, which, in his opinion, is government-run health care.

Pawlenty said of President Obama's speech to school children, which caused a tantrum among talk-radio conservatives, that it would be "disruptive" for the president to send a message on the first day of school since "kids are trying to find their classrooms."

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) said no one should be surprised by President Obama's low poll numbers since he's taking on some major, contentious issues like health care and energy/environmental legislation.

(Read more of what Sens. Nelson and Klobuchar think about the "trigger" option.)

Meet The Press: Axelrod: Public Option Important, But Not Definitive

President Obama is determined to pass health care reform by the end of the year, according to his top political adviser, even if that means compromises.

"I think we are going to have major reform this year," David Axelrod said on NBC's "Meet The Press" Sunday. "American people want us to do it and I think we are going to get it done."

And while Axelrod made a point of defending the idea of a public option -- "The public option is an important tool to help provoke that where there is no competition" -- he made it clear that won't make or break the final bill. It "should not define the whole healthcare debate," Axelrod said.

More Sunday show wrap-ups after the jump.

This Week: Gibbs Calls Public Option a 'Valuable Tool'

Support appears to be growing for a "trigger" option where Americans would have access to a public option for health insurance after five years. Former Senate majority leaders Robert Dole (R-Kan.) and Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), both appearing on ABC's "This Week," suggest it could be a way to find middle ground.

Dole noted that while Obama "has every right" to push for an immediate public option, "I don't think it's going to go anywhere."

It remains unclear, however, whether lawmakers on either the left or the right will accept the idea of a trigger. Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) said any public insurance provider will be quickly overwhelmed during an economic downturn: "In this economy, there's no small business or large business worth its salt that isn't going to take a hard look at sending all of their employees to the federal government for their health insurance the minute a public option is available." And Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) rules out waiting-"I'm not for supporting five more years of these health insurers ripping off the American public."

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, for his part, hinted at the president's flexibility, calling a public option "a valuable tool." Unlike Bill Clinton before him, Gibbs said, when it comes to a congressional health care speech, "Well, I doubt we're going to get into heavy veto threats on Wednesday."

(Read the entire Gibbs interview.)

Fox News Sunday: Gingrich Urges Incrementalism

Democrats sound ready to abandon bipartisanship on health care reform, while Republicans urge a more incremental approach. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) suggested President Obama would be better off passing a series of small bills on issues, such as tort reform, "with huge bipartisan majorities. The country would calm down. The president would be much stronger by Christmas. And we'd get a lot done."

And while Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) warned a Democrat-only approach "would be thumbing your nose at the American people, who have been telling Washington for the last three months, 'Slow down,'" former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (D) said it's the way to ensure a public option for insurance coverage and future electoral success. "My experience in politics is, if you don't use your majorities, you lose your majorities," Dean said. (Read more from the panel's discussion of health-care reform.)

Face the Nation: Education Sec. Laments Obama-Speech Flap

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan addressed President Obama's planned speech to America's school children, in which the president plans to encourage kids to continue their education goals. The speech gained howls of anger from some conservatives who claimed he was attempting to "indoctrinate" the children.

"It's the kind of things I frankly don't pay any attention to," Duncan said on CBS's "Face the Nation." "We have major problems, we have major challenges in this country" that need our focus. (Read the section of the interview on Obama's speech.)

Duncan also stressed encouraging teenagers to pursue education goals beyond high school, especially in times the dropout rate has reached 30 percent, or 1.2 million students, among American high school students.

"We have to graduate many more students," Duncan said. "We have to make sure many more of those who graduate are prepared for some form of higher education. Four-year universities, two-year community colleges, trade, vocational, technical training, whatever it might be. A high school diploma does not begin to be enough in today's competitive economy."

By editors  |  September 6, 2009; 12:37 PM ET
Categories:  Sunday Talkies  
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After reading all the above comments, the feeling I have is that their are many angry people that don't really understand the truth about health care. They are just taking their anger out on Obama who inherited the worse historical circumstances any new President faced.

And I see selfishness in most comments where someone wants to deny people health care. There are children out there that are dying from lack of health care much less the poor and the needy. Their lives are just as valuable as yours.

Posted by: gfaigen | September 8, 2009 4:03 PM | Report abuse

After reading all the above comments, the feeling I have is that their are many angry people that don't really understand the truth about health care. They are just taking their anger out on Obama who inherited the worse historical circumstances any new President faced.

And I see selfishness in most comments where someone wants to deny people health care. There are children out there that are dying from lack of health care much less the poor and the needy. Their lives are just as valuable as yours.

Posted by: gfaigen | September 8, 2009 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Get ready for even more lies, manipulation, intimidation and coercion from Obama and his accomplices to force us to swallow Obamacare.

Fortunately, thinking Americans now understand that Obamacare (as “public option,” “co-op,” or whatever names they use to manipulate us) has NOTHING to do with improving our health care system.

Obamacare is just another scam, another power grab that would further destroy our health care, destroy our economy, steal money from our children and grandchildren, multiply our deficit, and enslave us through lies, manipulation, intimidation and coercion.

Imitating Hugo Chavez, Obama wants to nationalize everything, including our health care system! "Hey, Obama has just nationalized nothing more and nothing less than General Motors. Comrade Obama!" Chavez cheered on Venezuelan TV. He added that he and Cuba's Fidel Castro would now have to work harder just to keep up.

Posted by: AntonioSosa | September 7, 2009 9:35 AM | Report abuse

An Open Message to Members of Congress:

As you consider “watering down” health care reform to be palatable enough to secure the bipartisan support necessary to pass a bill, I have a few questions for you:

Who in the hell gives you the right to force people to buy health insurance -- whether they want to or not?

Who in the hell gives you the right to force employers to provide health insurance for employees -- whether they want to or not?

Who in the hell gives you the right to force the “wealthy” and business owners and perhaps even soda drinkers to pay for the health insurance of other people?

Who in the hell gives you the right to force -- as you know you must -- future generations to pay for the health care of previous generations?

Who in the hell gives you the right to force insurance companies to sell, and employers and patients to buy, policies that mandate (force) coverage for specific conditions?

Who in the hell gives you the right to force healthier and/or younger adults to pay higher premium rates to subsidize premiums for less healthy and/or older adults?

Who in the hell gives you the right to force us to live under a complex bureaucracy that has broad and unchecked authority to influence and control private health care choices made by patients and doctors?

These rhetorical questions are meant to get you to realize that you can’t just “water down” PelosiObamaReidCare (PORC).

Do what you must do to water down the health care reform bill, but strip from the final bill any poisonous provisions that would violate the unalienable rights of patients, doctors, and business owners.


Dr. Gregory Garamoni
Doctors on Strike for Freedom in Medicine

Posted by: GLGPHD | September 6, 2009 10:09 PM | Report abuse

A public option now must be the current plan, not a later maybe! It's central to the need to reduce health care costs. President Obama, don't listen to the fear mongerers who captured America's ear under President Bush. Your leadership counts now.

Posted by: nkelly1 | September 6, 2009 9:31 PM | Report abuse

Germany, Switzerland, Norway all have private healthcare providers in a public system at far less cost. Payments for malady treatment vs fee for service would have doctors testing less for more coin, the opposite of today's care. We have a 2-1 ratio of specialists to GPs, the opposite of need. We should not only limit doctor slots but specialities too with only shortage specialties with greater quotas. We're good at high end care and horrible at preventive and general practice. We treat the uninsured at hospitals when nearby clinics can provide care at half the cost. The public option should be done in conjunction with religious organizations. Every rural church could have a doctor, nurse, administrator and man friday to give care in underserved areas. Paying salaries to providers would enable lower cost care than the for profit system today. Our doctor make much more than overseas counterparts and the Sherman act should only allow them to own facilities they practice in. A doubling of medicaid/medicare auditing would save 10% of it's costs. A $5000 bonus paid to people with less than 3 months to live that opt for home or hospice expiration would save billions in ICU end of life costs. Readmitted patients should have costs reduced 10% to providers as a penalty for the wrong medical choice. Church run nursing homes can no doubt lower costs from what in many cases are obscene costs for limited care. When patients are admitted for poor nursing home care the home should also eat 10% of costs. Putting pre-nursing and elderly care programs in our nations schools would address those shortages. Illegals should register with the FBI for a 10 year work permit being taxed double for medicare/medicaid and forfeiting their employer and their own payment to social security as a fine for being here illegally. Bundling together church run, non-profits and municipals into one large cooperative would allow them to compete against for profit insurers. Some testing facilities and clinics would have to be built/bought, but the overall costs by competing will become lower. I don't think the GOP can buck church run cooperatives, and I don't think an anti-abortion measure compromise with provided birth control outside of network can be reached with religious run clinics/hospital insurers.

Posted by: jameschirico | September 6, 2009 7:30 PM | Report abuse

Conservative Democrats and Republicans opposed to universal health care coverage in this country should show some unusual moral courage by giving up their taxpayer financed health care insurance. Since they do not seem to think all ordinary people are entitled to health care insurance, these conservatives should pay for their health care insurance out of their pockets.

Pawlenty must think students in this country are really helpless if he thinks they will be concentrating upon finding their classrooms during the first couple days of school. By the way classes have alreadys started in many, if not most public schools.

Conservatives and Republicans have probably forgotten how Bush I spoke to students when he was president. Some Democrats complained, so the lame "controversy" over Obama's speech to students is just petty, partisan politics as usual.

Posted by: Aprogressiveindependent | September 6, 2009 6:56 PM | Report abuse

I do not understand how Sen. Nelson of Nebraska, a state which only has a population of 1,783,432 which is BTW less than the city populations of NYC, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, and Phoenix can block any meaningful reform.

According to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, Sen. Nelson has raised more than $2 million from insurance and health care interests in his three campaigns for federal office

Sen. Nelson has received $1,195,299 from insurance interests, $399,345 from health professionals, $258,483 from the pharmaceutical industry, and $195,138 from hospital and nursing home interests.

Of Sen. Nelson’s campaign contributions from the insurance and health care industries, 83.4% have come from out of state sources, according to our analysis of data downloaded from the Center for Responsive Politics

Think about it, Sen. Nelson has received more money from Health/Phar Lobbyists than there are people in his state.

Posted by: Gracefulboomer | September 6, 2009 6:00 PM | Report abuse

What? It has to be proven that in 5 years we're more screwed than we already are?


Posted by: onestring | September 6, 2009 5:22 PM | Report abuse

It takes some seriously deluded and reality challenged twits;

to consistently ignore the biggest and most destructive reality involved in this Nation's destruction of our Standards and way of life!

WHY, won't any "Journalists" act like they possess even the basest of Clues;

and just take their F'ing selves and their F'ing Cameras;

down to ANY Emergency Room, Maternity Ward, or Public Clinic;

and EXPOSE Latin America's ASSAULT on US!?!?!!!

What kind of Sheeple have we become to tolerate Elected SCUM allowing 15-30 Million Americans to be out of Work;

while IGNORING the UN-WANTED Invasion in this Country of 15-30 Million Foreign Nationals;

and their US Back Breaking Costs!?!???

Our best defense of our Sovereignty began, and will begin again;

With ENGLISH being the ONLY Language accepted in our Schools and other Official Dwellings!

Posted by: SAINT---The | September 6, 2009 5:19 PM | Report abuse

Nelson, a blue dog democrat, (read, greedy on the take republican in sheep's clothing) wants a trigger, ha. He wants the industry position so he can continue to rake in the cash. What a Clinton DLC doggy.

Posted by: frluke | September 6, 2009 3:44 PM | Report abuse

Loony-left d-crat socialist make-up tip #85:

Take an ugly "public option" (i.e. nationalization and full government control of a rationed healthcare system), and apply LIBERAL amounts of lipstick and -wallah!- you now have a beautiful "public option trigger".

Now that's "Change We Can Believe In".

Posted by: LoonyLeft>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

you know what's so funny about your post is that the "trigger option" is actually the idea of olympia snow a republican. good post though, i got a good laugh at it.

Posted by: whatdyousay | September 6, 2009 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Loony-left d-crat socialist make-up tip #85:

Take an ugly "public option" (i.e. nationalization and full government control of a rationed healthcare system), and apply LIBERAL amounts of lipstick and -wallah!- you now have a beautiful "public option trigger".

Now that's "Change We Can Believe In".

Posted by: LoonyLeft | September 6, 2009 2:42 PM | Report abuse

The trigger is just a gimmick to put off implementing a full scale public option until officials more in tune with the billion-dollar insurance corporations can be elected to dismantle the whole health care reform.

We need a public option plan now. Health care and insurance costs are doubling every ten to twelve years. The insured know they may well lose their insurance if they get ill. There are huge deductibles, high premiums, and low caps on coverage.

These abuses, along with skyrocketing costs, will not be dealt with by anything other than the competition of a public option plan.

We let the health care and insurance industry put it over on us with the Medicare Drug Plan with its huge donut hole and no restrictions on prices. Prices skyrocketed the year after the drug plan was passed. Congress, don't let that happen again. Pass a true public option plan.

Posted by: tinyjab40 | September 6, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Wow. Tantrum. Classy journalism.

Only when it's a Democrat criticized does the namecalling start among the in-the-tank WaPo crew.

Contrast with below from NY Times 1991:

Financing for a Bush Speech Is Attacked
Published: Friday, October 4, 1991

Democrats assailed the Bush Administration today for spending $26,750 in taxpayer money to hire a production company that oversaw President Bush's telecast from an eighth-grade classroom here to schoolchildren around the country on Tuesday.

Posted by: mmmmmmmmm | September 6, 2009 2:08 PM | Report abuse

jessied44 my thoughts exactly.and i agree with howard dean if the majority cant do now it will never get done.the republicans are going to disagree with everything this administration endorses. obama should really take charge andforget the republicans trash talking he was elected to get rid of the republican bs.we hear more from them now than we ever heard under bush.who in the hell is enzi, alexander,and all these other idiots .tell them to shut upwe will do this our way.

Posted by: donaldtucker | September 6, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

No more waiting for everyone (insurance companies, etc) to behave in a decent manner! No trigger! Public option NOW.

Posted by: rpotlucky | September 6, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Flip Flop, Flip Flop!!!!! How can anyone trust this Administration????

Posted by: Jimbo77 | September 6, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

There should be no discrimination against a Public Option in the exchange.
Why can’t we give every idea an Equal Opportunity in the health care reform?

GOP has been fighting for choice, while DNC for change.
This conservative Independent recommends let's do both choice and change, and allow private insurers, non-profit co-ops and the Public Option in the same exchange for all Americans to choose.

For the Public Plan, there are two possible scenarios. One is the Universal Care System, which most developed countries enjoy. The other is a Public Plan in a smaller scale.

If we offer a Public Option with a limited scale, it will serve mostly the Middle Class as the rich and the poor are already covered. In this limited Public Plan,

1. Everyone has to pay a percentage of their income or AGI, no matter how large or small, with No Limit. No matter who writes the check for your income-based premium, it is you, the insured who is paying for it. This % has to be less than 8%, the penalty rate for those employers that choose not to cover their employees.

2. Subsidies from the self-sustaining limited Public Plan pay premiums for those with less incomes.

3. It used co-pays to control system abuse except for preventive care; and it employs no more deductibles.

4. It adds an age-based premium, for example, a 1-year-old pays $1 per month, while a 40-year-old, $40/mo.

5. One problem with this limited Public Plan is how we can treat a family for insurance purpose. If we were to have a Universal Health System, we can treat every insured as an individual, no more family or employer-based insurance. Therefore, we can have a limited Public Plan if and only if the poor can retain Medicaid and an employee with a family pays a higher percentage of income-based premium, but still less than 8%.

A Universal Health System empowers each individual insured, which has been the weakest insurance consumer ever. Then, new college graduates can hike the Appalachian Trail without worrying about getting injured when they are no longer covered by their parents' insurance; you can work on any job without looking at heath care benefits. How many college graduates are working for Starbucks Coffee just for their health insurance? Creativity will flow again and small businesses will thrive with talents.

We don’t need more stimulus money. We need the Public Plan to help us create more jobs and revive our economy fast.

Posted by: dummy4peace | September 6, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Without a public option it will just be more years waiting for the Insurance companies to find their non existant conscience. Reform that hands the corporations more income in the form of "mandatory coverage" and then expecting them to play nice and stop gouging the sick and dying is just foolish.

Posted by: jessied44 | September 6, 2009 1:19 PM | Report abuse

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