Lieberman Ready To Support Health Bill Without Medicare Buy-In Or Public Option

CNN: "Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman said Tuesday he is prepared to back a comprehensive health care reform bill if it excludes both a public health insurance option and a provision allowing 55- to 64-year-olds to buy into Medicare." He told reporters that "If the public option and Medicare buy-in are removed from the bill, 'then I'm going to be in a position where I can say ... that I'm ready to vote for health care reform,' ... Lieberman, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, has emerged as the majority party's main obstacle to its efforts to get a health care bill through the Senate before Christmas." Over the weekend he threatened "to join a GOP filibuster" if the legislation contains either of those two provisions (12/15).

Politico: "Lieberman was adamant that he had not flip-flopped on the issue, despite his support of a Medicare-buy-in-like proposal in 2000 as a vice presidential candidate and then again in an interview a few months ago in the Connecticut Post. He said the current economic situation cannot be ignored in crafting what he believes to be the best bill possible" (Shiner, 12/15).

Bloomberg: "Senator Susan Collins, a Maine Republican who is considered a possible cross-party ally, said she can't support the legislation even with the changes she has heard about. She said she is concerned about savings that Democrats get from the Medicare program to help pay for the legislation. 'This bill is getting better, but it's still too deeply flawed for me to support it,' Collins told reporters. She said she is proposing amendments, though their adoption wouldn't be enough to get her vote on their own" (Jensen, 12/15). 

The Associated Press: While Lieberman said he will likely support a modified bill, "another key moderate, Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., was still withholding his support as he seeks stronger abortion restrictions in the bill, among other issues" (Werner, 12/15).

This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. The full summary of the day's news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.