From NBC's Ken Strickland
As Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid remains shy of the 60 votes he needs to bring his health-care bill to the floor, one of the senators withholding her support appears to be moving away from Reid's bill that contains a public option -- and leaning instead toward the "trigger" proposal offered by Republican Olympia Snowe.
"I remain skeptical about what's been outlined conceptually," Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) said today, referring to Reid proposal for a public option that would allow states to opt out. "I continue to want to push forward to give people in American much better choices than they have today and will continue to stay at the table and negotiate."
Landrieu said she agrees with Snowe's belief that the private market should be allowed the chance to reform itself by providing affordable insurance coverage. But she quickly added, "If the private market fails to reform or refuses to reform then there would be a fallback position."
That "fallback position" is a direct reference to Snowe's proposal -- often called a "fallback" or "trigger."
"If we can achieve [affordable insurance coverage] through private sector reform, that's wonderful," she said. "And if not, then there should be a mechanism that basically -- I guess -- guarantees it, which would be a well-crafted trigger that is triggered not just by political whim or wish, which is what the current version in my view does, but by affordability and availability of choice."
Snowe's trigger seemed to be losing momentum in the Senate last week. Reid said the none of the health-care elements he sent to the Congressional Budget Office for cost estimates included the trigger option. But Landrieu strongly suggested the Snowe proposal is not dead. "Well, let me just say right now, I wouldn't count it out," she said, "I would not count it out."