Nelson, considered a moderate Democrat whose support could be vital in securing passage of healthcare reforms in the Senate, told CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday that establishing a government-run alternative to private health plans could be acceptable if it were triggered only in certain situations where there is little market competition.
"If, somehow, the private market doesn't respond the way that it's supposed to (to other aspects of health care reform), then it would trigger a public option or a government-run option," Nelson said, "but only as a fail-safe, backstop to the process."
Fellow Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, a backer of the public option, told CNN she may be able to support Nelson's "trigger," but said, "I'd want to see what those triggers are, what the benchmarks are. Certainly it's worth looking at. But we have to push competition. We have to do a better job of putting some rules on the insurance companies."