An Opt Out Trigger

The Hill reports on Tom Carper's continued efforts to capitulate to Olympia Snowe:

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), who has been tapped by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to come up with a Plan B approach to the public option controversy that has divided Democrats, has been working closely with liberal and conservative Democrats, as well as Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine). [. . .] Recently, he has touted a so-called hammer public option that he believes answers centrists' criticisms that the public option in Reid's bill is government-run and government-funded. The public option would kick in for states where insurance companies fail to meet standards of availability and affordability of plans. Unlike Snowe's trigger proposal, which would give insurers at least one year to satisfy those requirements, Carper's public option would start the first year the bill goes into effect. States might be permitted to opt into the public option even if the benchmarks are met.

All in all, a pretty silly proposal. But I think there is one thing from it that can be used - make the opt out provision subject to a trigger. In other words, states can opt out ONLY if they meet "standards of availability and affordability of plans." A trigger for the opt out. I like that idea. And I'll give Carper the credit for it.

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    I read the other day that the states that (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by steviez314 on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 12:10:58 PM EST
    currently have the most insurance competition are the blue states, while the red ones have the fewest insurance choices.

    So, an opt-out trigger would probably force the red states to join the public plan, while the blue states wouldn't have to, but would want to.

    Voila, everyone covered.  

    Blue States (none / 0) (#3)
    by CST on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 12:49:50 PM EST
    might have more competition but they aren't necessarily cheaper.  The regulations tend to be more stringent and in general, everything costs more.  It depends how they define the standards the insurance companies have to meet.  Specific dollar values mean very different things in different states.

    Tell that to the Excise Tax proponents (none / 0) (#5)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 12:55:06 PM EST
    Sure (none / 0) (#6)
    by CST on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 01:09:07 PM EST
    It's a problem with a lot of federal programs.  Although it's a problem I'm more than willing to live with to be in a blue state, it is what it is.

    I'm not using this to argue against the opt-out trigger.  Just saying it might not be as easy for blue states to opt-out as one would think - which is not a bad thing at all.


    heh, I like that too (none / 0) (#1)
    by andgarden on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 12:08:56 PM EST

    Can we just call all of this nonsense - (none / 0) (#4)
    by Anne on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 12:54:03 PM EST
    opt-in, opt-out, trigger-in/out, can sideways be far behind? - by a name that better describes what's going on?

    It's the Hokey-Pokey as far as I'm concerned.

    Trigger, hammer ... (none / 0) (#7)
    by Robot Porter on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 01:09:57 PM EST
    maybe if we just give the Public Option one these catchy violence-inflected monikers we'll get it passed?

    Any ideas?

    Next up will be a national lottery (5.00 / 3) (#8)
    by MO Blue on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 01:17:16 PM EST
    to select the 3 lucky people who will be able to enroll in a "public option."

    That should satisfy the "public option" requirement :-).  


    Ya know, if they sold tickets (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by ruffian on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 02:27:02 PM EST
    $1 a piece they could probably finance a few more folks. 30 million uninsured, $1 a piece for a ticket...draw maybe 10 tickets for $300,000 worth of medical care for life.

    Or rather draw 100 tickets (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by ruffian on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 02:27:49 PM EST
    I hate math.

    The nuclear option? (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by KeysDan on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 01:19:03 PM EST
    Sorry, forgot, that's been taken.

    the new names (and other revisions) (none / 0) (#10)
    by christinep on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 02:12:34 PM EST
    When I heard about the "hammer" approach, my chuckle was automatic. Not for the reason that you might think. Instead: I recall this concept and reality in other federal regulations (some of which have worked btw.) For most of my 30 years with the federal government, I worked on/closely with environmental regulations and enforcement. The "trigger" mechanism was associated with the Clean Air Act and the application of sanctions for failure to meet certain requirements/deadlines. Mixed results--especially for those broader environmental directives that lent themselves to extensions. What did I learn from that? If regulations include a "trigger," make it as near to automatic as possible. Next came the "hammer." While I hadn't thought about that for several years, its origin--I believe--was the Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (aka RCRA.) And, if the development of "hammer" is to follow suit, look for differentiating approaches as found in "soft hammer" and "hard hammer." No kidding. The hard hammer is the automatic regulatory approach that precludes extensions. The point: The new phrases and regulatory approaches may not be so new.

    Here's how you know it's a stupid idea (none / 0) (#13)
    by s5 on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 11:26:56 PM EST
    Try explaining what a "triggered co-op" is to someone who doesn't follow politics.