A day after Senate leaders moved closer to dropping a measure that would expand the Medicare program, the public face of the opposition inched closer to supporting the broader reform bill. Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), who caucuses with Democrats, said that with the Medicare buy-in and public option measures left out, “I'm getting to that position where I can say what I wanted to say all along—I'm ready to vote for healthcare reform.”
Buy-in 'didn't make sense': Lieberman
Twelve Democrats also expressed concern over the Medicare measure, saying they worried about its effects on hospital and physician payments. But Lieberman was the only member who said his vote on the broader bill would be contingent on having the Medicare expansion measure and another that would create a public health plan stripped from the bill. That entrenched position proved enough to force Democratic leaders to make last-minute changes to the bill, earning the wrath of some liberal members who championed a public option or, short of that, opening Medicare to those ages 55 to 64.
Democrats were told late Monday that the measures would likely be stripped.
“Here's the point: The Medicare buy-in, as proposed, didn't make sense,” Lieberman said on Tuesday. “But it ended up, it seems to me, when advocates of the public option saw that they didn't have the votes for the public option. They kind of tried to get it down another path.”
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