Lieberman: Fight over healthcare compromise 'ain't over'

The fight to reach a compromise on the Senate's healthcare bill "ain't over," Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) emphasized Thursday.

Lieberman, one of the most closely-watched centrists in the Senate during the healthcare debate, said he had increasing concerns about a key element of a proposed compromise that would allow uninsured Americans between ages 55-64 buy into Medicare.

Lieberman said he is undecided on the proposal and waiting for legislative language, but seemed skeptical of the Medicare proposal, which was offered as part of the deal in exchange for dropping the public option, which the Connecticut independent had vehemently opposed.

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"I don't know how anybody can decide until you see the actual language on these compromise proposals," he said. "And on the Medicare buy-in, I have increasing concerns as I think a lot of colleagues in the Democratic caucus, including some of those who weren't concerned about the public option."

Another key centrist, Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) also said Thursday afternoon that he had some concerns about the Medicare buy-in.

Lieberman said that the debate over healthcare was at a "hold" until results of the compromise proposal returned from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), and by no means was a deal sealed on the compromise at this point.

"But on this attempt for a compromise, it ain't over by any means," he said. "People who were in the room of 10 -- I wasn't one of them -- said that as far as they're concerned, some of my moderate friends, all they agreed to do was to send those two ideas to the budget office to get evaluated. So that's not the end of this struggle."

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