Snowe falls on health care reform

SNOWE FALLS ON HEALTH CARE REFORM…. It seemed encouraging, at least at first. Sen. Olympia Snowe (R) of Maine couldn’t appear at a health care reform rally in her home state over the weekend, but a staffer from Snowe’s office read an official statement from the senator. “I believe that the reforms we are creating will result in more competitive, affordable and innovative options for Mainers, yet we can all agree that we must not leave universal access to chance,” Snowe’s statement said, according to one report. “That is why I also support a public plan which must be available from day one.”

Great news? Not quite. Snowe’s office sent Brian Beutler the complete quote from the prepared text:

“I believe that the reforms we are creating will result in more competitive, affordable and innovative options for Mainers, yet we can all agree that we must not leave universal access to chance. That is why I support a public plan which is available from day one — in any state where private plans fail to ensure guaranteed affordable coverage.” [emphasis added]

This, in other words, is the same position Snowe has maintained all along. A public option would get the job done, but she’d prefer to give private insurance companies yet another chance to achieve the same goals that a public plan would accomplish.

“Throughout the entire health care debate, Senator Snowe has emphasized that we must first, reform health insurance, and if plans then fail to offer affordable coverage, a public plan should then be offered from day one,” Snowe’s press secretary said.

Except, “day one” in this context means, “the day the senator’s satisfied that private insurance companies haven’t lived up to expectations.”

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.