Senator Claire McCaskill said Sunday that public support for a public healthcare option is growing because this is the time of year employees enroll in their benefits plans and rising premium costs are at the forefront of their minds.
"One of the reasons, I think, the polling has improved for what we're doing in Washington is that it's open enrollment period right now. And so many people are looking, once again, at another year where they're not going to get a raise because all of their raise is going to go to increased health care costs," McCaskill said.
Still, during her appearance on ABC's This Week, McCaskill acknowledged she was concerned about losing the support of moderate Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine.
"I think, though, that the devil we know is much worse than what we're proposing to do," McCaskill said, reasserting her support for some type of public option.
A flurry of contradictory media reports late last week about the fate of the public option show how fluid the delicate legislative negotiations are for House and Senate Democratic leaders.
But McCaskill seemed optimistic that the Senate would end up voting on some type of public plan which includes either a trigger or an option for the states to opt in or out.
"I think what we're going to end up with is having votes on a number of choices: the ability for states to opt in to some kind of not-for-profit plan; the ability for states to opt out of some kind of not-for-profit plan to compete with the private insurance companies on this exchange; and then the option to trigger a not-for-profit plan if the insurance companies don't manage to bring down costs within a certain period of time," McCaskill said.
She did not stipulate which type of plans she prefers. But McCaskill said she believed Congress would pass a healthcare bill that would include some type of "public not-for-profit option among many private options."
Late Sunday CNN reported that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was poised to introduce a Senate health care bill with a public health insurance option that would allow states to opt out.