MCCASKILL: I -- 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.
I frankly have not drawn a line in the sand. I support the public option. I'll vote for the public option. But I'm focused on these deficit costs, on how can we reconfigure the way we pay for health care in a way that, long term, will begin to have an impact on these deficits that are really going to threaten the security of our nation in the next 10 to 20 years, if we don't get serious about it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You say you haven't drawn a line in the sand, but the only Republican who's voted for the bill so far, Olympia Snowe, has. She was with our friend Al Hunt, here, just the other day, and he asked her -- I want to show this -- whether she would accept anything but this trigger option that you talked about, which would be imposed if the insurance companies don't do their job.
Here it was.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: You wouldn't accept any public option other than a trigger -- is that a...
SNOWE: That -- that's -- that's correct. Yes, I haven't thought of any other calculation, but a public option at the forefront really does put the government in a disproportionate position with respect to the industry.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Now, you suggested that she might be getting that as an option to vote for later on, but it's not the option that Senator Reid is working on right now.
Are you worried that you and your Democratic colleagues might be driving away the only Republican who seems inclined to support this effort?
MCCASKILL: Well, sure. I think -- you know, I'd be less than honest if I didn't say all of us were concerned about making sure we get the votes to move forward. But I remain pretty optimistic.
I think, as -- one of the reasons, I think, the poling 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.
So I think that -- and keep in mind, if we get some of the more moderate senators like Ben Nelson and Evan Bayh and Joe Lieberman in the fold, it would not surprise me to see the few remaining moderate Republicans come along.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So, bottom line, you believe this does get done this year and it does have a public option?
MCCASKILL: I think it gets done this year and I think we end up with some kind of opportunity to go to a public not-for-profit option among many private options that people that currently don't have insurance -- and keep in mind, not everybody can even go to this exchange and buy insurance with any kind of subsidy. This is going to be a fairly limited number of people -- 25 million to 30 million are the estimates -- that would even be on this insurance exchange.
By and large, most of this country is going to continue to get their health insurance through their employer.