Cardin, Stabenow Would Support Scaled Back Health Bill

Posted December 15, 2009 at 10:54am

Liberal Democratic Sens. Benjamin Cardin (Md.) and Debbie Stabenow (Mich.) said Tuesday morning that they would be able to support a health care reform bill even if it does not include either a public insurance option or a Medicare buy-in provision for individuals ages 55 to 64.

The Democrats’ support for a scaled-back health care bill seems to suggest that Senate liberals are prepared to bow to the demands of moderate Democrats, who have serious reservations with — or are opposed to — the public insurance option and the Medicare buy-in provisions.

“When we look in total, about over 30 million more Americans will be able to find affordable insurance, will be able to get coverage — absolutely I can support this bill,— Stabenow told reporters during a news conference.

“The underlying bill here is critical as to how it will reform our health care system — health insurance,— Cardin added. “The three absolutes for me: The bill must bring down the growth rate of health care costs, it must provide affordable options for every American, it must be done in the budget. That’s going to be the three standards I use to judge the bill. I’m very optimistic that the bill moving through the United States Senate will accomplish those goals and a whole lot more.—

Senate Democrats emerged from a closed-door meeting Monday evening signaling that they were prepared to jettison the public option and the Medicare expansion in order pass a health care package by Christmas.

Sen. Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.), who caucuses with the Democrats, had vowed to filibuster any final bill that included either of those measures; Sen. Ben Nelson’s (D-Neb.) support for those proposals was also in doubt. Democrats on Tuesday are scheduled to travel to the White House to meet with President Barack Obama. The president is expected to urge Democrats to do whatever is necessary to get health care reform done.

Meanwhile, Republicans are unanimously opposed to the Democratic bill in its present form.