Washington (CNN) – U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson, the lone Democratic holdout on the Senate health care reform bill, has reached an agreement with Democratic leaders, several Democratic senators said Saturday on Capitol Hill.
Nelson, a social conservative from Nebraska who opposes abortion, does not want taxpayer funds to pay for that medical procedure. His vote is crucial for Democrats, who want to avoid a GOP filibuster.
The senators were said to be caucusing on the terms of the agreement.
Asked whether he was on board with it, Ben Nelson replied, "Yeah."
Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-California, who was one of the key senators involved in the talks with Ben Nelson, confirmed that she's satisfied that the language of the agreement achieves its goal.
"My goal was to try to reach some compromise so we could move forward on health care, where the basic premise was we could separate federal funds from private funds. I think we achieved that."
Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, agreed, saying the deal follows the principles of the Hyde amendment, which prevents federal funds from being used for abortions.
"Anyone who is in the exchange who also gets a federal subsidy because they're poor, if they choose a private insurance policy and want any kind of abortion coverage, they have to write that part of the premium from their own personal funds," the Florida senator said.
The health bill proposes a health insurance exchange for those unable to afford health coverage or don't have coverage. No federal funds could be used to cover abortions for people participating in the exchange, the bill says.
In addition, under national plans that would be administered by the Office of Personnel Management, there has to be, if a state chooses those, at least one that does not offer abortion coverage.