December 17th, 2009
09:01 AM ET
11 months ago

The other Independent who could sink health care

Sanders said he may vote against the Democrats' health care bill.
Sanders said he may vote against the Democrats' health care bill.

Washington (CNN) -  There's been a ton of liberal  anger this week focused on Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman - who those on the left considered the main obstacle to the Democrats' efforts to pass a health care reform bill in the Senate by Christmas.

But now, an Independent senator from the progressive side of the Democrats' coalition could threaten passage of a reform bill.

Bernie Sanders of Vermont says he may vote against the legislation. The Independent from Vermont, who like the moderate Lieberman caucuses with the chamber's 58 Democrats to give the party a 60 seat filibuster-proof majority, says he has major problems with the bill.

"I have made it clear that, at this point, it is not for sure that I will vote for that bill unless it becomes significantly better," the first-term senator and former socialist mayor of Burlington, Vermont, told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on "The Situation Room" Wednesday evening.

Sanders, who favors a single payer health care system, explained to Blitzer why he has problems with the current bill in the Senate: "Right now, with the withdrawal of the public option, what that means is that the private insurance companies are not going to have any competition. And they are going to be able, it seems to me, to be able other continue to raise their rates as high as they want, which is what they have been doing for many years. So, what I am right now doing is working with the White House, working with the Democratic leadership to try to make this bill as strong as I can."

Following his interview with CNN, Sanders appeared to go bit further in his opposition, telling Fox Business Network that "as of this point I am not voting for the bill."

Earlier Wednesday, Sanders withdrew from consideration his  amendment that called for a single-payer healthcare system after Republican Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma forced the entire 767 page measure to be read aloud in the chamber, in a move to stall and defeat the Democrats health care reforms.

– CNN's Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report


Filed under: Uncategorized
soundoff (95 Responses)
  1. Go Bernie...

    Go for cloture so we only need 51 votes...otherwise, without the public option and the bill being so watered down the legislation is useless. Which is exactly what the Republicans want...

    And, on another note, now you know why Obama's approval rating has dropped below 50%...he is alienated so much of the base with this useless bill and no leadership...this bill needs to have teeth...Bernie, keep pushing and make Obama come out of the woods...

    December 17, 2009 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  2. phil

    Good for him! Like the soy burger at McDonalds this watered down version of health care reform is now a joke. No public option but you have to have insurance or you get fined. Disgusting! Republicans are shameful and Democrats are weak... Same song, different verse. Seems to me the aim is the same. Grow up you donkeys! Do your job for once and do something for humanity and not your pockets. Money doesn't change the fact that you don't know what love is.

    December 17, 2009 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  3. America Shrugged

    Right now as the bill stands, with no expansion of Medicare to 55-64 yr olds WHO CANNOT QUALIFY FOR INSURANCE due to pre-existing conditions, or a robust public option to stimulate competition, it's nothing more than more subsidies to BIG INSURANCE COMPANIES. Sorry, I have to agree with Sen Bernie Sanders and Frm Gov Dean on this one. Dems have no one to blame but themselves for this mess.

    December 17, 2009 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  4. eric

    great, now health care reform now wrests on the impulses of two fringe idiots!

    December 17, 2009 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  5. Beck

    Oh come on just give us what all these do nothing politicains have and will just fine. The best medical and pensions in the world can't be too bad.

    December 17, 2009 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  6. Lioness

    There are many reasons this monstrosity needs to die. It's a Frankenstein monster tacked together with objectionable ideology from one group or another. Medical people hate it and Americans cannot trust it or it's authors to have their best interest in mind. Let it die. Start over dealing with issues which Americans can support.

    December 17, 2009 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  7. ObservantOne

    Hats off to the Independents!!! I am a Independent and the only healthcare reform that I am interested in is one in which all Americans receive the same type of healthcare that federal employees receive. Our taxes paid for thier insurance and will paid for any healthcare reform package, so why not give everyone the same insurance as the President, his cabinet, the senate, congress and all other federal employees. Do that and healthcare will pass within one day.

    December 17, 2009 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  8. Terry, TX

    That's crappolla... he will vote for it.... and then just vote him out. Kill the Bill.

    December 17, 2009 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  9. joyce

    I too have been concerned about the lack of competition for insurance companies, in a plan that requires nearly everyone to be insured. What has been hurting our public schools and cities in my Wisconsin community is the dramatically increasing cost of health care for our public employees. It has come to reducing services/staff to pay the health insurance fees. How will this bill help control insurance costs? I am glad Bernie Sanders' voice is being heard.

    December 17, 2009 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  10. Ruth

    Stupidity proven. Does the woman not have a clear thought in her head? Does she not own a hat without writing on it? No to the first question, surely to the second.

    December 17, 2009 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  11. Go Bernie.................

    shoot it down.......Americans are against it 60-30 anyway..............

    No Obamacare.....no rationing.....no death panels......

    December 17, 2009 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  12. phoenix86

    Read the bill start to finish.

    Once you do that, if you are still in favor, then you are just insane.

    December 17, 2009 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  13. Rob

    Is he the 'former socialist mayor of Burlington' or the socialist former mayor of Burlington?

    December 17, 2009 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  14. southerncousin

    Does this idiot not look like he has escaped from some sort of facility for the mentally impaired?

    December 17, 2009 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  15. Chad

    This Bill is a monstrosity as it stands. Billions upon Billions of dollars with no real promises to do anything to help people. I have been against this bill from the start. Now before you go hating on me, I fully believe that our health care system needs to be fixed. I agree that health insurance companies SHOULD NOT be allowed to drop people from coverage for pre-existing conditions, or just cause they want to. I believe that costs have gotten out of hand and that there needs to be regulation. However, the way this bill started out in the beginning threw a ton of money again without really watching what would happen to it. SCRAP THIS BILL AND START OVER. If we don't do this right the first time you think that things with health insurance are bad now???

    December 17, 2009 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  16. Tony

    GREAT!!! Another NO vote for the WORST BILL OF ALL TIME. What do you say we not try to pass this chopped up miserable legislation and we start over with small, single topic bills that actually target the real problems? This loon thinks the only way you get competition is the public option. HEY BERNIE, there are 1300 insurance companies in the USA how about letting them sell wherever they want to. Then a Geico type insurance company can get started up and drive down costs. Simple FREE solution. added one government expensive plan does not increase competition. Try using common sense. And you can stick your single payer idea.

    December 17, 2009 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  17. Who do you trust?

    I agree with Sanders. Put up a better bill and let Lieberman and the Republicans take the heat for shooting it down.

    What they've got now is a win for the insurance industry, not for us.

    December 17, 2009 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  18. Independant Vet

    Just shows that there bill is no slam dunk . Instead it is going to be A SLAM DUMP . UH HUh

    December 17, 2009 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  19. Jimmy James

    A wacky socialist wants single payer health care? Go figure.

    December 17, 2009 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  20. mjm

    "Right now, with the withdrawal of the public option, what that means is that the private insurance companies are not going to have any competition. And they are going to be able, it seems to me, to be able other continue to raise their rates as high as they want, which is what they have been doing for many years."

    Medicare has gone up just as much. $58/month in 2004 to $98/month in 2009. Medicare competes with no one and it's obviously not for profit (in fact it's broke).

    1300 private insurance companies compete, government programs do not. If BCBS is too expensive, switch to UHC or Cigna. If your doctor stops taking Humana for some reason, you can switch to another insurance or find another doctor. That’s real competition.

    Most doctors accept all private insurance, try finding one that takes Medicaid or SCHIP.

    December 17, 2009 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  21. sensible Cape Coral FL

    The bill as presently written is a Christmas present to the Insurance VCompanies. I think President Obama should veto it until it reflects the real needs of the PEOPLE

    December 17, 2009 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  22. steve b

    Please Mr President
    Fulfill your promise to make legislation available for all to read 72 hours
    before it is voted on.
    Let us read the bill.
    Thank you

    December 17, 2009 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  23. DaveG

    I hope he does block it. Pull the whole bill and then present a new bill with a public option in the House and pass it through both the House and Senate on reconciliation. There is no Republican support anyway, so why should we water down the bill for the other 4 Democratic and Independent senator obstructionists.

    December 17, 2009 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  24. m jeff

    He must have received his Christmas check from the Insurance Companies.

    December 17, 2009 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  25. Robin

    If this was such a "wonderful" bill, it would have been passed by now.

    The bill is an atrocity, and while we need INSURANCE reform, I would rather have it right then have it now.

    December 17, 2009 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
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