The Public Option Trigger: Naïveté, Insanity, or Trickery?

Olympia Snowe and Rahm Emanuel are both pushing hard for their “trigger” idea recently. The idea is the public option would only go into effect if the health insurance industry kept raising people's rates at a rapid pace. (I believe, after studying the trigger created by Snowe, that it was designed to never be pulled. I also agree with Robert Reich that the whole concept of “triggers” just doesn't work in a town filled with highly paid lobbyists, but let's leave that issue aside for now.)

The whole concept of a “trigger” is at least perpetrated on the idea that the for-profit health insurance companies can stop themselves from raising Americans' premiums. It rests on the belief that the insurance industry will promise to stop ripping people off, and they deserve another chance to prove that they can.

The recent “study” released by AHIP makes even the concept of a trigger patently absurd. In their study, AHIP not only promised to keep increasing people's premiums, but promised to do it at an even faster pace. They asserted that they were powerless to do anything to stop the increase. AHIP is telling Congress that they will not stop, they can not stop.

AHIP's own study makes a trigger predicated on insurance industry moderation look insane. There is no mystery now about what will happen in the future. The health insurance industry itself admitted that they will fail to bring down premiums if the Baucus bill is enacted.

At best, all a trigger will do is force Americans to endure several more years of skyrocketing insurance premiums. At worst (and most likely), it will give the lobbyists for the for-profit insurance companies several years to work on crippling or removing the trigger, so that there will never be a public option.

Supporting a “trigger” on the hope that insurance companies would promise to shape up sounds like naiveté. Supporting a “trigger” after the insurance companies promised to increase pre

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