Lieberman’s Health Care Move Still Reverberating
Politico: "Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) is taking a thrashing from his former Democratic colleagues and liberal activists for forcing a Medicare expansion out of the health bill. But in the end, Lieberman may have done President Barack Obama one of the biggest favors in the health care debate. That's because any bill with the Medicare buy-in would have drawn fierce opposition from doctors and hospitals, two groups Obama has worked hard to keep on board. In effect, Lieberman spared Obama from having to make a difficult choice down the road between liberal supporters who wanted the Medicare expansion and two big constituencies whose opposition could have scuttled a bill." Hospital and doctor groups had already begun raising concerns about the proposed Medicare expansion (Cummings, 12/17).
But Bloomberg reports that Senate Democratic leadership can now focus on others as Lieberman, the longtime holdout, now appears onboard with the Senate's health bill. "Lieberman ... said he's ready to back it after Democrats signaled they're poised to drop a proposed new government-run insurance program, as well as a plan to expand the Medicare program for the elderly to people as young as 55" (Jensen and Litvan, 12/17).
NPR reports that Lieberman's move got "mixed reviews" in his home state. Myrna Wantanabe, a member of Connecticut's Democratic Central Committee "says Democrats in the state are furious over Lieberman's opposition to expanding Medicare coverage - an idea he championed as Al Gore's running mate back in 2000, and supported just three months ago." But Bob Verrastro, a retired investigator for the state Labor Department and a registered Republican, says Lieberman is "the only sane Democrat," adding that the senator has "had my vote, even running against Republicans" (Orson, 12/17).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.