December 14th, 2009
08:36 PM ET
3 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. AJ

    I will be switching parties and urge all moderate and liberal Democrats to do the same. Obviously our votes have been wasted, the Democratic party are gutless, do nothings who do not deserve or votes. Reid is worthless, Obama is worthless. Better an effective republican than aworthless democrat.

    December 14, 2009 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  2. No Longer Hopeful in America

    This proves that elections do not matter. No matter what the people want there will always be a Joe Lieberman willing to sell out to the special interests.

    The Senate rules are rigged so that the special interests can run the country. One man intent on making certain his insurance company contributors get what they want can stand in the way of what a vast majority of Americans want?

    It is time to end this charade and kill the whole bill. In 2010 we should just boycott the election. Let these phoneys have it and quit pretending this is a democracy

    December 14, 2009 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  3. gary

    Does Murtha have the public option? I think that Murtha can wait in line for 6 months to get his gallbladder taken out. Perhaps he can have the surgery performed by a Physician's Assistant rather than a surgeon – - and he can do it without anesthesia!!! Get ready country, that's what Democrat Healthcare reform will do to all of us.

    December 14, 2009 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  4. Mark in Texas

    Joe Lieberman has for so long supported Medicare and the extension of Medicare to those 55 to 65 that to turn against it now is just a very blatant affirmation of his insurance industry gravy train. He was ELECTED, but then he was BOUGHT. This is American democracy? Not what the founders had in mind! Can he be voted out of office, today? Is there impeachment for a senator?

    December 14, 2009 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  5. gary

    Medicare is bankrupt by 2017 – - so the Democrats brilliant idea was to add 55 to 65 year olds (15 million more people) and take 10% of the money away. That was a recipe for disaster, if they did that then half of doctors would drop Medicare patients and then their access would be even worse. Bottom line is you can't treat more patients with better quality for less money, the Dems are being stupid!!!

    December 14, 2009 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  6. don abel

    I hope this bill fails , lady's and gentalman it is starting to sounding so ,
    I think the day this bill will be officialy declared dead should be rememberd as a big holiday like july 4!

    December 14, 2009 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  7. Linda

    The only people with any backbone in congress are the ones who will block any help for the average person, no matter what just so they can say they stopped what Obama wants. Remember "we the people" we voted for Obama because we want the same thing. We will also remember that obstructionist attitude come election time. I say vote them all out and start over, then there will be no special interest in any ones back pocket except the people who elected them. We the middle class are without representation. They quit listening to what we want a long time ago. The back of the middle class is broke.

    December 14, 2009 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  8. Edwin

    This is terrible. Why are they so set against the budget reconciliation option? Is it because Reid is facing a difficult re-election?

    The GOP used the budget reconciliation option many times from 1994 to 2004, for things that weren't about budget reconciliation. They even fired the guy in charge of it when he told them their measure wasn't about the budget. So why are the Dems afraid to do the same?

    December 14, 2009 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  9. Patrice

    Unbelievable. I am without words. This is not health care reform. It is insurance industry protection legislation. And it sucks.

    December 14, 2009 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  10. Susan

    Wow, Dana, you sure seemed to enjoy announcing this news tonight - right up your Republican't alley, isn't it? How sad!

    December 14, 2009 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  11. Leslie

    If Lieberman is the obstructionist that halts the Medicare buy-in, he needs to be kicked to the curb like the garbage he is.

    He and his wife are paid by healthcare lobbyists. Of course he is against this!

    It is a no brainer why he is fighting this. He is a Republican through and through.

    It is going to get ugly!

    December 14, 2009 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  12. 'RUB' THE CLOWN

    Lieberman is the Devil. I'm trying to figure out what "caucuses with the Democrats" means? What makes him any different than all the other obstructionist Republicans other than that he's more privy to Democratic strategies? When the dust settles he should be stripped of any perks he's accrued for posing as a Democrat (certainly he should lose his committee chairmanship and all seniority on committees). He is a blight who should be excised and allowed to be "independent" (i.e. a Loner Loser).

    December 14, 2009 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  13. Keith in Austin

    Medicare buy in and the Public Option are now history!

    December 14, 2009 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  14. Ken, AZ

    Lieberman is trying to impress his GOP buddies, McCain and Linsey Graham. Let's push the public option and let Lieberman and the other holdouts defend their position to the voters.

    December 14, 2009 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  15. gate

    Strip Joe Lieberman of all his committees. He is no Democrat and no friend to the American people. He is a shill for the big insurance companies and so is his wife. Follow the money.

    December 14, 2009 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  16. birdy

    lieberman is stupid. he'll be on the wrong side of history considered nothing but a sell-out. all that's going to happen is we're going to get a watered down bill but it's going to pass. and then in a few years when lieberman is not re-elected and more dems take rep seats, the senate will pass a stronger bill. the fact is the younger generations, starting with generation x, are taking over and we are overwhelmingly liberal and/or democrat. the xenophobic republicans and their old ideas will die off. even the military is becoming increasingly dem. women have already taken over as majority of college graduates. with higher education comes liberal thinking. the tides are changing.

    December 14, 2009 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  17. Jon from Madison

    I am so glad to see that an entire year, or more, will have been wasted on either no bill, or such a diluted bill that accomplishes nothing. Way to go Dems. It was Barney Franks sub-prime lending bill that bankrupted the nation and now a stimulus bill and health care bill that will waste the time and money needed to get us out of this mess. Chang we can believe in. How is that working out for you?

    December 14, 2009 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  18. Don Davis

    What is the problem with letting the common working person get his insurence from medicare if it's cheeper than what his company is charging him or her or if medicare covers more than their insurence that's provided by their company. Medicare is excepted everywhere and most PPO's are only excepted by certain doctors or hospitals, they restrict you from going to a doctor of your choice. They also charge what ever deductable they want and out of pocket max. COME ON JOE WHAT'S THE BEEF WITH LETTING US PICK WHO WE WANT TO BE INSURED BY! WHAT PPO DO YOU HAVE JOE?

    December 14, 2009 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  19. mb-texas

    No.The citizens of Connecticut should consider a recall of Lieberman.
    He is not an Independent he is a opportunistic person.The Democrat needs to call his hand and the others that cannot suport what the
    American people want and that is a strong public option.The White House should forget bowing down to Lieberman.The Republicans are licking their chops at all the in fighting.Sen.Reid needs to use reconciliation
    for Health Care.

    December 14, 2009 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  20. Portland. Maine

    Democrats....please stop caving in to Joe Lieberman. he is a hypocrite and a fool.
    ~former Connecticut resident

    "And what I'm saying to the people of Connecticut, I can do more for you and your families to get something done to make health care affordable, to get universal health insurance ..." - Lieberman during 2006 Senate Primaries

    December 14, 2009 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  21. Henry Miller, Libertarian, Cary, NC

    Here's an idea: Get the idiot government out of the health care business, and keep it that way.

    Everything government touches it screws up. Costs go through the roof, as does the tonnage of bureaucratic paperwork for everyone involved. Efficiency goes through the floor. Losers ooze out of the woodwork to take advantage of anything "free"–i.e., stuff someone else is forced to pay for.

    Further, there is no Constitutional basis for government involvement in health care in the first place. The powers delegated to the Federal government are very limited, and they're not allowed to unilaterally extend those powers–doing so requires a Constitutional amendment. For the Federal government to do anything at all in health care, Step One has to be enacting that amendment.

    December 14, 2009 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  22. Norman A Solow

    I think it is a very bad move by the Democrats to drop Medicare at age 55.

    If Senator Leiberman wants to be a Republican then let him. The American Citizens has waited many years for health care reform.

    It seems quite obvious that the GOP wants to do nothing. I say nothing is not an option. We need real change and we have it in our grasp so please do not drop the ball now.

    Norman

    December 14, 2009 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  23. liz

    This is why Democrats' ratings are going down. If they can't get their act together and pass the kind of strong, meaningful health care reform the majority of Americans want and need, they're going to suffer greatly in 2010. Opening up medicare to younger folks is the right thing to do. In fact, if they eliminated the age restrictions altogether, it would accomplish everything they are trying to do in one sentence, never mind a thousand or so pages.

    December 14, 2009 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  24. kmp

    This just really pisses me off. For once I wish Dems would play hard right back. I am sorry but they are letting the loud minority run things again.

    December 14, 2009 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  25. George Guadiane - Austerlitz, NY

    SO, when we get right down to it, it looks like Democrats won't be taking up for Americans either.
    Who will?
    When?
    What will it take?

    When will you guys take Lieberman to the woodshed and leave his bruised carcass for the crows? Strip him of ALL of his special seats and treat him like a freshman with cooties, THEN go with reconciliation.

    If you want to get re-elected, take care of the voters FOR A CHANGE!

    December 14, 2009 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
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