Democrats Dropping Public Option To Save Overhaul—Again

The public option looks dead again.

Democrats are pretty much conceding defeat on a compromise reached last week that would have allowed uninsured people ages 55 to 64 to buy Medicare coverage.

Unable to muster enough votes for health overhaul that included a substantial government-run insurance alternative, Senate Democrats are willing to jettison even that watered-down public option to move the rest of health bill along.

"It's looking like that's the case," said Sen. Max Baucus, chairman of the Finance Committee, who deep-sixed the public option in an earlier version of the overhaul bill to draw more votes. "It's just a matter of getting support from 60 senators."

NPR's Julie Rovner reports on the latest stumbling block: Connecticut's Joe Lieberman, an independent senator who generally goes along with the Democrats. But not this time.

On Sunday, he gave the Democratic leadership agita by saying he would have a "hard time voting" for a bill that included a Medicare buy-in. Say what?

As recently as September, Lieberman had supported a Medicare buy-in. Check out the video from the Connecticut Post embedded in a story about the senator recanting support for a buy-in.

What happened, Joe? Last night, he claimed the demise of the buy-in wasn't his fault—alone. "There's more than me that had concerns about different parts of the bill," he said.

But with votes for overhaul so hard to come by, every senator in the Democrats' caucus has veto power.



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