December 14th, 2009
08:36 PM ET
7 months ago

Senate Democrats moving towards dropping Medicare buy-in

Washington (CNN) – Two senior Democratic sources tell CNN senate Democrats are headed towards dropping the compromise idea to allow 55 to 64 year-olds to buy into Medicare because of opposition from Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman.

"It’s what the White House wants and there aren’t many other options that allow us to finish by Christmas," said one source.

Senate Democrats had an emergency meeting Monday night to discuss this issue, which threatens to derail health care.

Although a final decision was not made at Monday night’s meeting, a second Democratic source said it’s likely a final decision could be made at meeting Tuesday of all Democrats with the President at the White House.

“I think there is a fundamental understanding of the direction we’re going in, “said Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.

Before the meeting, liberal senators Tom Harkin of Iowa and Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia indicated that the so-called Medicare buy-in would likely be dropped, and while they didn’t like that, they suggested they would support a health care bill anyway.

"If he (Lieberman) is absolutely opposed to it, it looks like we won't have it," said Harkin.

"There is still good stuff in this bill for changing the paradigm of health care in America," he said.

“Democracy isn’t written to say that you get exactly a perfect system, “ said Rockefeller. “I mean, we are where we are. That’s the ultimate bottom line.”

The Medicare buy-in concept was intended to appease liberals upset that Democratic leaders were dropping a public option.

But that ran into a wall Sunday when Lieberman said he would support a GOP filibuster to block health care if the Medicare provision was in the bill.


Filed under: Democrats • Health care • Senate
soundoff (89 Responses)
  1. MaryJo

    Isn't there some Democrat in the party who can run against Lieberman and unseat him? Surely this party can come up with a viable candidate to rid this country of this Republican once and for all.

    December 14, 2009 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  2. Pelosi's a see-you-en-tea

    This thing would be passed by now if congress would listen to the American people.

    December 14, 2009 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  3. tom

    May God have mercy on each one of us and on Palin's message of doom and gloom.

    December 14, 2009 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  4. aliou

    Public option is the only option for me. Americans should pack their bags and spend christmas on the capitol hill until the bill is signed with a strong public option.

    Enough is enough.

    December 14, 2009 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  5. Tony T

    The dems are trying anything to get the bill "done" by Christmas. What the hell is the hurry? Couldn't we try to do a good bill? This one is horrible and everyone knows it. We rushed to pass the Porkulus debacle, and look at how that worked out. Keep stalling them GOP and a few normal thinking Dems. KILL THE BILL, START OVER. THERE IS NO EMERGENCY for a plan that doesn't even kick in for 4 years.

    December 14, 2009 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  6. aliou

    The president on his knees begging thieving bankers, and Harry Reed on his knees beggging liberman and his cohort to to please republicans? What country is this again? A democracy? no let's call it a new name: Moneytocracy

    December 14, 2009 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  7. Larry

    A very sad day for this nation when one self centered man is allowed to take away something that would help so many Americans

    Joe Lieberman is a treasonous A hole that does not deserve the dirt I walk on

    Why isn't he man enough to simply admit he works for the Insurance industry

    He should be thrown out of the Senate, and thrown in jail

    December 14, 2009 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  8. kaydeedee

    If the Democrats can be held hostage by one guy, Lieberman – whose only purpose in life is to obstruct – and only pass a "reform" bill with no teeth, then they are useless. Totally useless. President Obama is more interested in passing SOMETHING, ANYTHING, than in real reform that would help actual people like me and my family. He seems more ready to satisfy Lieberman rather than the voters who elected him.

    Single-payer was sacrificed to the compromise of the public option, which was sacrificed to the compromise of the Medicare buy in, and now even that's out? All the Dems do is compromise their compromises until nothing is left (except a mandate that everyone HAS to be covered), the Republicans just say No! and yet they win.

    The Democrats will have lost me and millions of others who believed their promises of real change. See ya!

    December 14, 2009 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  9. valwayne

    Who in their right mind came up wtih that idea. The Democrats wanted to gut Medicare of $500 billion while adding millions of new members, and they are trying to tell us the elderly will have good care, and costs would go down. The only way cost go down in Medicare in that scenario is if you let 55 year olds join and kill off everyone over 63. The lies just go on and on and on!!!!

    December 14, 2009 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  10. J.C. - Independent 4 Public Option

    The French people are very proud of their universal health care system, but they regularly (every few years) change it to perfection. They are unlike us in that it takes us many decades to change something as important as health care for all Americans. I think they still remember the French revolution and it's better not to take advantage of the people for too long or else the consequence will make history.

    As long as premiums are used to pay a return to investors, we won't be able to provide affordable coverage as greed is something even Greenspan couldn't imagine or control. Health insurance should be non-profit, but unlike Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

    "The French spend below 5% of all premium incomes on administrative expenses. ... They spend about $3,165 per capita each year for a health insurance system that covers everyone." – T.R. Reid.

    December 14, 2009 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  11. Michele

    Stupid, stupid, stupid. Why bother with this at all if you aren't going to actually help the people who need it? Why is Lieberman allowed to get his way again? There are ways to stop him. Strip his chairmanship, NOW!

    December 14, 2009 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  12. Albert K. Esq.

    Lieberman's chutzpah is obscene. “Democracy isn’t written to say that you get exactly a perfect system, " said Rockefeller? A compulsory health care system with no public option is not democracy! It puts the worst of capitatism and socialism in cahoots, you get "capitalcialism." Competition for your acceptance of a private contract offer is replaced with a legal duty to sign it. Notice and opportunity to be heard before tax increases is replaced by continious compulsory rate increases by a corporation. Imagine compulsory education with no option to attend a public school or compulsory Social Security payments made only to a Wall St. corporation. Medicare, public education and social security never resulted in a government takeover and neither will a health care public option, but even that would be more desireable than Lieberman's government enforced corporate takeover of our paychecks. Lieberman wants to turn Uncle Sam into a thug for the ihealth care corporate mob who does not want to compete with a public option that must answer to a Democracy, the rule of law, due process and notice and opportunity to be heard.

    December 14, 2009 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  13. Bill

    What's so maic about finishing by Christmas? Isn't getting it right more important?

    December 14, 2009 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  14. Chloe in Chatsworth, CA

    Hey Joe, why stop there? Let's drop the eligibility of people 65 and up for Medicare too. It's just as fair, and imagine the windfall for your insurance company backers!

    Oh, wait a minute, we're taking the opposite tack for that crowd, aren't we–blocking cost savings for Medicare to bankrupt the system. It's win/win–the teabaggers think you're protecting their (non-government?) Medicare, and you're fighting "Socialized" medicine in one swell foop.

    December 14, 2009 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  15. james

    After this health care is over think is over, I wouldn't mind the dems getting rid of Lieberman and his health industry lobbying wife once and for all. He has been a thorn in everyone's backside and he needs a good kick out the door.

    December 14, 2009 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  16. Tony in Maine

    It's time to eliminate the tyranny of the minority. Demand the Senate drop the filibuster and 60 vote super majority required to order toilet paper for the SOB washrooms.

    Holy Joe has put a spotlight on the use and abuse of power by intransigent legislators beholden to and doing the bidding of their K Street masters.

    As for Lieberman – he is a walking, talking example of the first of the Seven Deadly Sins.

    December 14, 2009 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  17. Karen, Maryland

    It is a disgrace that one person can dictate what will or will not be in a bill. Why is this being allowed? Whatever happened to what is best for the people and not the insurance companies. Does Lieberman have no conscience?

    This man needs to be kicked out of the Democratic caucus and stripped of his committee chairmanships.

    December 14, 2009 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  18. Kate

    hopefully, they will drop this whole plan and start over. I don't think any of them know what they are doing. I don't trust the government to run anything.

    December 14, 2009 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  19. LBG

    Lieberman should not bother calling himself a democrat any more. He is clearly in the pockets of all the Connecticut insurance companies and no longer represents the large number of his constituents who could have availed themselves of the possibility to buy into Medicare at age 55.

    December 14, 2009 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  20. Jim

    who do you think pays their medical insurance! why won't you people do something good for Americans! I am 49 years old, and i asked my dad what was the difference between democrats and republicans. I was 12 when i asked that question, he replied son the republicans sometimes puts the crumbs on the table and once in a while you will get a good Democrat that will brush them off on the floor to you. He was a die hard Democrat and so am I ! CUT THE PRESIDENT SOME SLACK.... Have you senators forgotten how you got elected!

    December 14, 2009 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  21. glen beck is off his meds again

    They need to drop lieberman! Hes a DISGRACE, and a traitor. He is ONLY there because the Dems MIGHT need him, but apparently he has no intentions of voting with the party that put him in office, so remove him! He is obviously gunning to be a republican, and now it would be political suicide for him to vote yeah on any Democratic bill, because the dems dont want him and if he votes for one the repukes wont have him either, he has dug his grave, its time to put the pos in it!

    December 14, 2009 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  22. John in FL

    They will do anything to get a bill done to look good. The problem is they are rushing this plan and filling with such garbage that it will end up hurting America instead of helping it.

    December 14, 2009 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  23. Whats the hurry

    Why are the dems in such a big rush. Why does this HAVE to be done by Xmas.

    Do it right. Listen to the people. Thats the problem, the Dems do not want to go home for the Holidays and hear what the people really want,,,,, no Health Care reform that the government is in charge of.

    December 14, 2009 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  24. Mark

    Adding another trillion dollars to our debt and raising everybody's insurance premiums would only be an idiot liberal's idea.

    December 14, 2009 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  25. jane

    This developement is a terrible shame. Just at the age where people who, after working all their lives, have lost their jobs. And the problem is ten-fold if they fall into that age group where they're too old to realistically expired to be re-hired and too young for medicare. Joe Liberman is a disgrace and so are all the others who are caving in to insurance industry profiteers.
    It would truly be a blessing if there were a few true statesmen and stateswomen left.

    December 14, 2009 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
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