Lieberman protests: 'I'm for healthcare reform'

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), whose stated opposition to a healthcare reform bill threw the Senate Democratic caucus into turmoil Sunday and Monday, told reporters that he still supports passing legislation -- on his terms.

"The important thing is: I’m for healthcare reform. And if we get together, we’re going to deliver a healthcare reform bill that will provide the ability to get health insurance to 30 million people who don’t have it now,"

Lieberman told reporters on his way to a meeting of the entire Democratic caucus Monday. "We’re going regulate the insurance companies and we’re going to cut the costs. That’s tremendous."

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On Sunday, however, Lieberman made plain during a television appearance and a private meeting with Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.)  that he would join forces with Republicans to filibuster the bill unless provisions dear to liberals are cast out.

Namely, Lieberman reiterated his opposition to any form of government-run public option, a proposal to allow people between 55 and 64 years old to buy into Medicare and the creation of a federal long-term care program through the so-called CLASS Act.

"I think the core of the Reid bill is a good bill and I’ve been focused on trying to get it back to its strong core and take off some of the stuff that runs the risk of creating federal debt, that moves toward a government takeover of insurance, which I think would be bad," Lieberman said.

Lieberman also pushed back at reports that his opposition to the Medicare buy-in proposal represents a flip-flop. News organizations and liberal blogs have widely circulated a video of Lieberman backing the policy during an interview with the Connecticut Post in September.

"I didn’t change my mind. I’ve been in this position for the last few weeks," Lieberman said.

The difference between December and September, he said, was the completion of the Senate Finance Committee's version of healthcare reform  -- which did not include a public option -- in October.

"We’ve got this very strong network and system for subsidies for people, including people who are 55 to 65. So the idea of the Medicare buy-in no longer is necessary because they’re taken care of very well under the Finance Committee proposal," he said.

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