- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 13, 2009

Two senators whose support for the health care overhaul has been in question are speaking out against a proposal to let people as young as 55 buy into Medicare.

Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, Connecticut independent, said Sunday that opposition is growing to the Medicare buy-in. Mr. Lieberman said that he’d “have a hard time voting for it.”

Sen. Ben Nelson, Nebraska Democrat, said he fears the proposal could lead to single-payer government health care.

The proposal was part of a compromise when Senate Democrats dropped the idea of setting up a federal health insurance plan in the marketplace. Many Democrats who favored that option have found the Medicare plan appealing, but several moderates are against it, and Democrats need all their votes.

Meanwhile, senators are awaiting new cost estimates on the latest overhaul proposal from Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat.

The Congressional Budget Office is expected to release its analysis this week on the revised bill’s cost, and one senator said Sunday she “absolutely” would vote “no” if the overhaul increased out-of-pocket costs for people and drove up the nation’s red ink.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, Missouri Democrat, also said she doesn’t think that would happen because President Obama would reject such a bill, too.

The results of the cost projects are expected to determine how many Democrats would support it — with 60 votes needed for passage — and whether party leaders would have to revise the legislation.

The Senate’s Republican leader said it’s a stretch to think the Senate can finish its massive health care legislation before Christmas.

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, said Democrats are grappling with internal divisions and negative public opinion about the overhaul taking shape.

He said that “they’re in serious trouble on this” and that the central problem is Americans are against it.

Not so, said Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV, West Virginia Democrat. He’s confident Democrats will get past the issues dividing them because they agree on the broad principles. He said it’s always tough when it gets down to the details.

Mr. Lieberman, Mr. Nelson, Mr. McConnell and Mr. Rockefeller appeared on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” Ms. McCaskill was a guest on “Fox News Sunday.”

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