Lieberman says public plan must be 'off the table' to win his vote

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) would have to take a public option "off the table" to win Sen. Joe Lieberman's (I-Conn.) vote on a health bill.

Lieberman said during an appearance on Fox News this afternoon that Reid would need to remove the controversial provision to win his vote now, though the Connecticut centrist said he would be open to revisiting the public option in several years.

"Just take this government-created, government-run health insurance company that will cost the taxpayers, premium payers and the debt a lot of money -- take it off the table," Lieberman said, emphasizing that he believes that the rest of the bill includes a number of positive reforms.

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Lieberman announced yesterday that he opposed the opt-out public option included in Reid's version of health legislation sent to the entire Senate, handing the majority leader a potential stumbling block toward getting 60 votes to break a filibuster of the legislation.

"We can come back in three or four years if the reforms -- the other reforms we adopt are not working," LIeberman explained. "But I think they will."

Some liberal groups have suggested that Lieberman is opposing the public (or "government-run") plan out of concern for the effects on insurers, which are a dominant industry in Connecticut.

Lieberman rejected that charge, maintaining that he would seek to work with both Democratic and Republican colleagues to help come up with an agreement on a final bill.

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