December 14th, 2009
08:36 PM ET
6 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. Debbie

    While I agree that “Democracy isn’t written to say that you get exactly a perfect system, “ said Rockefeller. Democracy does mean the will of the majority and not one (Lieberman) holding the people hostage. It's political terrorism and Lieberman obviously is now the biggest obstructionist there is.

    The people of his state must be so proud! Not!

    December 14, 2009 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  2. Kathryn

    No public option and no 55+ buy in. How is this bill going to help people that don't have and can't afford insurance? Lieberman obviously does not care for the good of the American people.

    December 14, 2009 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  3. Dem in AZ

    I think it is sad that the insurance companies are using lieberman as a puppet. Lieberman has no mind of his own. I guess money talks right?

    December 14, 2009 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  4. S.Ann

    So apparently there is nothing in this Health Reform bill that will do anything to help Americans now. I swear this is a sad deal. Why bother passing a bill that won't cover anyone but just private insurers? The government is being persuaded with money. Do they really want us to suffer with a health bill that won't do any good for the people? If so, God help us.

    December 14, 2009 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  5. Rowe

    If the Democrats can't stand up to Joe Lieberman, how will they stand up to Mahmood Ahmadinejad? (That's what the bumper stickers will say in 2010 if they allow this to happen.) When moderates are ineffectual, they enable extremists. The Weimar Republic taught us that. If Democrats want to see the newly "purified" Republican (tea) Party in power next year, this is a great way to go about it.

    I say leave the 55+ Medicare buy in in the bill and let Lieberman and the Republicans filibuster it if that's what they intend to do. The 55 year old and up demographic is a solid pillar in the Republican voting base. Let's see what happens to it when the Republicans filibuster a bill that would have allowed them to buy into a program that they'd LOVE to join.

    The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was filibustered for 54 days by the Southern Dixiecrats. The Act eventually passed, and the Dixiecrats eventually became extinct for opposing it. That's what I guarantee will happen to any party that tries to block health care reform in America.

    December 14, 2009 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  6. Corey

    There's still no abortion amendment. Ben Nelson won't support it...

    December 14, 2009 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  7. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    This is silly... We nned to have many options for those that need coverage. Republicans always seem to say that competion is good. I think that this would be good for many people to have choices for health care insurance. If the for-profit companies fear a public option which might insure only 5% of those without insurance, then why are they concerned? There would be many more people that would be required to get insurance (possibly discounted) that would have to go to these for-profit insurance companies. Why are they really concerned?

    December 14, 2009 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  8. Brian in California

    We're going to end up with a reform that does nothing and benefits the insurance companies. What is Lieberman thinking? He knows he's the lynchpin in this whole deal and he is doing everything he can to get what HE (or what his insurance company lobbiests) wants. I think it is time to investigate how deeply embedded he is with the insurance companies. It is awfully suspicious how quickly he changed his mind from last week.

    Connecticut vote Lieberman out!!!

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

    Emperor Joe wins again. When are the Dems. gonna grow a pair and take his committee away and boot him from the caucus? Why do they continue to kiss his sorry butt?

    December 14, 2009 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  10. WhatMeWorry

    Joe Lieberman claims he isn't in the pocket of the powerful insurance industry located in his state, but the evidence is close to overwhelming, as this latest stance shows.

    December 14, 2009 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  11. Bob

    Democrats are the most spineless party to ever be elected with a super-majority. These pathetic individuals deserve to be kicked from office.

    December 14, 2009 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  12. lovable liberal

    The liberal blogosphere knew all along that forgiving Lieberman was a mistake. Yet all the professional politicians in Washington couldn't figure out that he would never be a loyal vote again. Fools!

    December 14, 2009 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  13. Stop the Spending

    Wake up America. The Dems will sell their soul for 60 votes. They do not care if the bill will do squat for health care. For all those that are clamouring for a bill, remember who got bought out. Neither the house, Senate or the White House care about the right thing to do. If it was about dropping pre-existing conditions, that could have been done months ago...why wait. Start with something. Stop ramming down a 2000 page bill before Christmas.

    December 14, 2009 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  14. Brad

    Why is finishing something, especially something that's already so flawed, loaded with special spending and special protections for special groups, BEFORE Christmas, so important? All you're concerned with is that health care NOT be an issue by the time November 2010 arrives. You're astute enough to know that most of you in the house and senate won't be returning because people in your districts and states are fed up with your lies, stupidity, fraud, graft, corruption and lunacy.

    One lame a$$ senator can kill the whole thing because in HIS great wisdom he's concerned about federal debt? If federal debt concerns him, take a different tact. Stop trying to 'level the playing field' at the expense of Americans, stop throwing our treasury into Afghanistan and the Middle East and start placing the needs of Americans above the expectations and demands of those who already hate us; stop paying for infrastructure all over the planet while our own falls apart. Lieberman was disgusting as a democrat, he's just as disgusting as an independent and he'll make just as disgusting a republican when the time comes.

    December 14, 2009 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  15. normajean

    Joe Liebermann has health care payed for indirectly by the American people. Isn't he lucky?Wouldn't it be nice if everyone had health care. We of coarse, have not been" bought and payed for" by the insurance companies like he and his wife have been. If you don't believe this just check with Google as to the money having been payed to this couple over the years to vote in favor of anything to do with the insurance companies.I think if politicians elected by" we the people" have automatic health care then every citizen of the USA should have it also and not have to fight "city hall" to get it.The way things are going ,we're not going to get it while he votes "No " to every plan,which is what he's doing .

    December 14, 2009 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  16. Jimmy James

    They are so desperate to pass anything they can label " Health care reform". Doesn't matter the contents or cost. They just want it as a political charm. Hurry up and pass it so we can be taxed for 3 years and reap no benefits till 4 years later at the earliest. this is garbage. It isn't reform. Like insurance rates will drop and be less exspensive the next 3 years. The CBO hasn't even scored this and they lowball estimate.

    December 14, 2009 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  17. If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck.....

    Lieberman must be punished.

    December 14, 2009 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  18. Beverly in NC

    Thank goodness!

    It's time to go back to REAL reform which is only created with a strong public option. The majority of Americans want the public option so we can stop the abuses of the insurance industry.

    We get it – so why doesn't the Senate?

    Joe Liberman should be given NOTHING but a boot from the Homeland Security Committee and should be villified for being the "Benedict Arnold" of healthcare. Lieberman and the other traitor, Sen Nelson from Nebraska should be threatened with full Democratic opposition to their reelection this coming fall. Both of their states have been polled multiple times and the public option is being demanded by more than 60% of their citizens. That includes Democrats, Republicans and Independents.

    If these two self-serving jerks want to betray Americans who desperately need healthcare reform with a strong public option – then we will make sure this is the last public office they ever hold.

    Lieberman and Nelson are taking BRIBES from the insurance industry and they are TRAITORS to America. Their political future is OVER.

    December 14, 2009 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    How much money is Lieberman pocketing for holding up health care reform–specifically the public option/extended Medicare coverage for citizens as young as 55? And what do the people of Connecticut have to say about his position? Jerk, selfish pig or Horatio at the bridge?

    December 14, 2009 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  20. lila

    Does that mean the bill will be half finished? Can they use 'reconciliation' to add on to the bill? Are we just going to force every American to buy health care with no affordable option? How will the cost of my health care insurance go down by $2,500.. like was promised, with out a basic insurance plan price set by the government? Can we not make insurance offer a basic package for $4,500 a person with a $20 co-pay? Why can't we have a system like Norway? Why can't we be as evolved as Norway? Why is Joe making this so personal... why does he want to hurt the democrats? He was elected on a well known platform and supported Medicare buy in for people 55 and above.. why is he hurting the people that still believed in him even though he was a hawk in Iraq.. people he made believe that he was still socially aware? Where did Joe go? Has age made his heart hard? Will the ghost of Christmas visit him so that he can watch tiny tim die? Can he not understand that buying economy size (public option) means you get more for less money? When we all team our money together we can get all we need and have some left over for those who don't have enough? Buying individual size always means you get less for more money. always. :(

    December 14, 2009 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  21. John in Indy

    good sense prevails, at long last...

    December 15, 2009 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  22. bob

    Why should they care when they have health care and millions don't? Lieberman tries to be relevant, but he's a sorry example of ineptness in our congress.

    Republicans are selfish and useless for any change in our healthcare. Lieberman should just join the rest of the aging white elephants.

    December 15, 2009 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  23. Squigman

    It amazes me how one mis-led, ill advised nut case. can hold the whole country hostage. This is greed on the part of Lieberman, nothing more.

    December 15, 2009 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  24. U.S. Common Sense

    That's a start. Why don't they drop the rest of the bill while they are at it and start over? There is no reason to create a health care bill that costs the federal government ANYTHING! It doesn't cost the taxpayers to simply pass a law saying insurance companies cannot deny new patients due to prior medical issues. It doesn't cost the taxpayers anything to pass a law saying insurance companies must provide need-based insurance plans so even the poorest members of the general public can obtain private insurance coverage. It doesn't cost the taxpayers anything to allow companies and individuals to shop and purchase insurance from companies outside of their state of residence. It doesn't cost the taxpayers anything to allow small companies and individuals to team together to obtain package deals from insurance companies. It doesn't cost the taxpayers anything to pass tort reform. It doesn't cost the taxpayers anything to tell unions they have to fund their own bloated health care plans.

    Why this idiotic Democratic Congressional leadership get that through their heads is beyond me ... unless their goal is to actually tax the public and bailout the unions and lobbyists.

    December 15, 2009 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  25. Gregory H. Brooklyn, New York

    I think Joe Lieberman is a Mole. The question is, for whom??? A true investigative reporter should find out who is pulling his chord. Or does he simply crave the attention. Either way, he's holding up relief for millions of Americans hurting right now. Joe, you got your 15 minutes.....

    December 15, 2009 12:16 am at 12:16 am |
1 2 3 4