[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/03/21/art.3sens0321.cnn.jpg caption="Sens. Feinstein, a Democrat, and Hatch, a Republican, sat down with CNN's Candy Crowley Sunday to discuss the prospects for the health care reform legislation in the Senate."]
Washington (CNN) – A prominent Democratic senator predicted Sunday that her party will succeed in passing a reconciliation bill that puts the finishing touches on President Obama’s plan for health care reform. But, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, also said the legislation isn’t “perfect” and that the reform package will likely be altered at a later date to work out any issues that may arise.
“I believe, at the end, more than 51 Democrats will hold firm and will pass the reconciliation bill and we will have health care reform,” Feinstein said on CNN’s State of the Union.
But Feinstein also said, “This isn’t the perfect bill. We all know that. We all know that there are going to have to be fixes down the road just as every major [federal] program has had – Medicare has had, Social Security will likely have because of the explosion of costs.” In defense of the controversial and unpopular Democratic package, Feinstein pointed out that the United States spends more on health care than its European counterparts without achieving better outcomes. “We spend a lot of money but we don’t necessarily spend it in the right way or in the right places.”
And Feinstein continued with a prediction if her party is not successful in passing the legislation after the past year of wrangling on Capitol Hill.
“This bill is really important. Because if we don’t pass it now, you can forget health care reform forever after, I believe. So this is the opportunity. We’re right at the goal line.”
Responding to Feinstein, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said the United States should not aspire to be like its European counterparts.
“You reach a point where you say, ‘Who’s going to pay for all this?.’” Hatch said of the $940 billion plan, “And, it’s going to come down to us taxpayers. And like I say, it’s the Europeanization of America and that’s the worst thing that can possibly happen to our country.”
Asked whether she was comfortable with the legislation’s price tag and with whether the country can afford the reform package, Feinstein reiterated the possibility of tweaking the legislation in the future.
“Yes, yes,” she told CNN Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley, “I believe we can and I believe that will be sorted out over time.”
While Feinstein predicted enough Democratic support to get the legislation through the Senate under special budgetary procedures that require just 51 votes, Hatch said there will not smooth sailing for the reconciliation bill because of its potential impact on Social Security, a federal entitlement program which historically has not been altered by a simple majority of senators.
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