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Joe Lieberman, Medicare expansion and healthcare reform

Joe Lieberman, healthcare reform, single payer, Medicare Journalists covering the healthcare reform debate have focused their fire on Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) today for (gasp!) favoring Medicare expansion a few months before he opposed it. Well, it looks like Lieberman's going to win this debate anyway -- Politico and other outlets are reporting that Senate Democrats are prepared to drop the idea in order to get Lieberman's vote for cloture.

Making Medicare available to a few million uninsured people between the ages of 55 and 64 was an iffy proposition to begin with, given the potential cost and distorting effect on the rest of the market. (Even the Mayo Clinic was down on the idea.) Hospitals and doctors argued that Medicare underpays them, forcing providers either to stop seeing Medicare patients or to recoup their costs by overcharging other customers. And the folks most likely to need policies are those who private insurers considered too risky, which means they'd probably be expensive for Medicare to cover. On the other hand, getting those folks into preventative care before they hit retirement age could conceivably lower Medicare's costs over the long term.

Anyway, the debate appears to be moot. Medicare expansion struck Lieberman as the first step toward a single-payer system, which he simply couldn't abide. But what do you think? Should Senate Democratic leaders stick to their guns and try to pass the Medicare expansion proposal with 51 votes, using the budget-reconciliation process to eliminate the filibuster? If they're going the reconciliation route, should they go back to a more robust public option? Or is Lieberman doing the right thing and saving the country from an ill-conceived compromise among Democrats? Take our poll, leave a comment or both!

Credit: Tim Sloan / AFP/Getty Images

-- Jon Healey


Comments () | Archives (20)

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This bill should not go through; it's a monstrous enslavement to paying for stuff citizens don't want and not doing what they do want. Democrats are shackling Americans to "this" this week and "that" next week -- without a coherent salable business plan which can be examined over time; it's the Grinch trying stealing our rights in time for Christmas.


I think Senate Democratic leaders had better take a little time to get it right.

Dale Griner

If we are looking at a healthcare reform bill that mandates that every citizen has to purchase insurance but does not offer a low cost option, aren't we in fact just giving the insurance companies the largest subsidy in the history of the world? The insurance lobby could not have dreamed up such an outcome. How awful that the less affluent of us will now have to purchase what will naturally be inferior "low cost" insurance with less coverage and no benefits to speak of in the name of health care reform. Basically we are turning the whole system over to the insurance companies. How ironic that an effort to control the insurance system and cut cost will end up boosting that system and increasing cost.


Our so-called health care system in the US is non functional and bankrupting the country nationally and on a one-by-one, person-to-person basis. (Few Republicans complain when bankruptcy is due to the cost of unnecessary wars and 'defense' spending; why do they refuse to support programs that over time will lower health costs?) I'm officially an independent but I voted Democrat to finally see our health care 'system' reformed in a meaningful way. So-called 'centrist Dems' (including the new Benedict Arnold, Joe Lieberman) are blackmailing the country and should be held to account. Republican filibusters and block 'no' votes on everything are a disgrace. I will never consider voting Republican again if the 'party of no' continues to nay say and offer no solutions or compromises of their own. I learned in HS that 'politics was the art of compromise'? Where did that concept go?

Bridget Risemberg

If Joe Lieberman is SO concerned about the deficit why doesn't he try to extricate us from all the hornet's nests in the middle east and focus more on the citizens of this country who need chance to buy insurance. Thank you very little Joe for selling us all up the river. I'm sure your insurance company constituents are mighty pleased.
Bridget Risemberg


OK---not a viable national health care system, but health care reform.

OK-not health care reform, but health insurance reform.

OK-not health insurance reform, but a big gift to health insurers.

OK-but, I won't pay them!


how many times does sen. Lieberman need to show his true colors before the moderate democrats and independents boot him out of office

andrew nelson

This is a democrat mess. Let them stand up and ram something through with 51 votes and suffer the consequences.

Frank Gilbert

Perhaps we could save money by allowing lobbyist funded by corporations and large organizations to replace representatives in Congress and Senate. Congressional Budget Office could provide numbers on possible savings when staff, security and printing were no longer funded. Personally this would remove stress related to daily reading of seemingly illogical outcomes from our elected representatives. The only downside is this would be a jobs killer in advertising, book publishing and the news business.


I would like to pose this question to any Senator worth their salt (assuming the senator is not a attorney). Why is TORT REFORM not a major component of this bill? Studies performed by www.BenefitsManager.net and www.DentalInsuranceUtah.net that liability insurance costs are approaching nearly one third of the operating expenses for specialty care physicians, units and facilities. Aside from medical provider costs, insurance carriers such as Humana Health Plans state that their costs of medical liability and defensive medicine accounts for nearly 10 cents out of every premium dollar collected (verified). Compare that to Humana’s reported pharmaceutical claims of 15 cents out of every premium dollar collected. Or better yet, 21 cents out of every premium dollar collected is paid back to physicians for physician treatments. Without TORT REFORM, medical provider costs will never drop.

Bob Johnson

Watching the hysterical idiots on the left throw temper tantrums as their healthcare fantasies get destroyed is absolutely delicious. Could they have done any more to guarantee a GOP takeover next year?


Obstructionists, plutocrats, elitists- any word you use fits those who have not come to the table to serve the American constituency.

How we can continually throw hundreds of billions to the pentagon and subversive wars yet we cannot come to the public and offer fair and just health care reform is downright shameful.

And all this from a nation claiming to be christian!
I guess" fair and just reform" is asking to much- Throw in the word "Bilkers" as well. They serve no one but themselves and the ceos, lobbyists and greed spawned by the industry that "truly needs oversight and regulation!"
The GOP is the crux of the problem, always has been always will!
The word reform doesn't exist in their vocabulary!
12/19/2009 12:02:22 PM

Dr. Alan Phillips


This is a most unlikely trio, a bit of hyperbole, but definitely germane to this pathetic moment in American history.

Mother Teresa was a giver, to the less fortunate, the unrepresented among the world's poorest people. She gave without expecting anything in return. Unselfish to the point of not residing in the finest hotels or buildings while doing her noble work. She was a doulos, in the Greek language that means servant. she was not a deal maker, only an advocate who gave her life in service for the poorest among us, she will forever be fondly remembered.

Rod Blagojevich, an Illinois Governor, discredited for making deals to supposedly help his family and friends. In fact he is charged that he used his chance to fill the seat vacated by Barack Obama as one more money making plan--NY Times April 2, 2009. It seems his primary purpose was to execute and preserve power...for the financial and political benefit of his close friends. Definitely a deal maker often seeking to exchange his assets for others resources. Yet, in comparison to Harry Reid's exchanges and deals, a small player. Probably pending legal matters against him should be dismissed, unless charges are forthcoming against Mr. Reid and the administration for corrupt deal making.

Harry Reid, the Senate Democratic leader, supposedly a religious man, was shown in this Senate healthcare matter--to be only a deal maker. For example in the article by David Espo, AP Senate correspondent appearing in Breitbart December 21st entitled, Health care Clears Senate Test, one has only to read the quote on Senator Ben Nelson, "Senator Ben Nelson's announcement Saturday that he had decided to support the bill-in exchange for a variety of concessions". Whether Louisiana's receipt in the bill of a coming 300,000,000 concession or other Democratic perks and exchanges, Harry Reid is one of the worst secretive dealmakers of all time. He has betrayed the trust of his nation, and the expressed disapproval of this bill by a majority of Americans, He made a simple decision for his self interest, to do the administration's bidding.

He and his colleagues have failed the nation by not representing the people. We must look, in future elections, to new candidates who are committed to being servants of the people, rather than corrupt deal makers. Those, like Reid who can't distinguish between genuine compromise desire by the people and back room deal making, should not be re elected.

John Kennedy, writing Profiles in Courage, highlighted those Senators and historical figures who had made a difference, by representing Americans first and themselves last. Mother Teresa will be remembered fondly by the world's citizens, even Rod Blagojevich might be forgiven and granted some slack, but Harry Reid, will be remembered in American history as a corrupt deal maker who failed to represent a majority of the American People. He is a failure in principle, ethics, integrity and the basic principle of right and wrong.

Dr. Phillips
Bloomington, IL


This morning at around 8 AM, the Senate passed, again on a straight party-line vote, Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) manager’s amendment to the Senate’s version of Obamacare. This keeps the Senate on pace to pass the bill at 9 PM on Christmas Eve despite the fact that Americans overwhelmingly opposed the legislation.
("The Heritage Foundation")
Those of you bought off in exchange for your vote as well as those deluded Senators who actually "support" this boondoogle tax increase are going to have to face voters sooner or later, AND YOU WILL BE FIRED.


Would Joe Lieberman please stand up and finally admit that he's a republican?! He's been bought and sold by so many conservatives that I think he's forgotten what even the word "independent" means. While we're at it, will someone help the democrats find the stones to stand up and STAY standing up! Stop giving away the store!


History shows when government does not serve the people lawlessness prevails. I think the present bill stinks but hopefully represents a crack in the dike to real reform.

Still people aren't fooled by the transparant giveaway to the insurance industry. The real issue is how is the government going to enforce the requirement that people sign up for and pay for insurance if they don't want or need it? Not happening, just like people in increasing numbers are not paying their income, payroll, and property taxes. We are initiating a new wave of lawlessness in a country for which lawlessness is already the American way.

When half the country wants you to fight wars for no reason and the other half wants you to come home and be subject to predators in Big Insurance you can bet change will come but not necessarily change your gonna like.......


Joe Lieberman needs to finally get off the fence. I was a strong supporter of his especially during his Vice-Presidential run. Since his loss and changing over to the Independent Party his focus has not been what his was in the past. He does not focus on what is good for ALL Americans, which is a darn right pity. Mr. Lieberman just might be out of a job come next election, if he keeps swaying back and forth on a lot of these important issues concerning ALL the American people. People whom talk about real reform need to stop thinking about themselves and remember that TEAM does not include I! Also even when this Health Bill passes and Congress agrees, this bill would probably take 5-10 years to become law. This is because it will take time to hammer out all the kinks and appease the Special Interests concerns.


Joe L. is right. How can you add more people to the almost bankrupt Medicare system and truly believe it won't become MORE bankrupt?
The whole "reform" bill stinks. Selected pork for Dems who otherwise would have voted NO, just shows how corrupt the whole bill is. Worst bill to come out of the house ever.
But what would you expect coming from Democrats? Just like they ignored Bush when he requested oversight of the financial institutions, the Dems are creating another horrible mess. They worked to blame Bush for the housing meltdown, now they will have to accept the blame for this pork/dirtbag bill they are trying to shove down the unwilling publics throat now.


Liberman is a Liberal.. Period. He will bail. Liberman is what we call back home : "A front runner".. only for himself.

Zalman Saperstein

All citizens MUST have access to acceptable health care regardless of individual ability to pay. Any legislation that has this end-point must be considered and eventually one bill must be passed that accomplishes this end-point must be passes regardless of how it is described or the monicker it is given.



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