Landrieu ready to move healthcare 'forward before holiday recess'

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) on Tuesday said she would support a version of Senate Democrats' healthcare bill that did not include a public option.

Although the absence of a robust government plan worries a number of Landrieu's colleagues, the Louisiana Democrat stressed in a statement this evening that she could accept the public option's omission, given the rest of the bill's prospects for reform.

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“While many of us expressed cost and bureaucracy concerns about early drafts of health care reform legislation, it is clear that the product the Senate is debating is a dramatic improvement," Landrieu said, noting the Senate now has an "historic opportunity" to pass a healthcare bill.

"Senate Democrats have developed a consensus that combines the best blend of private and public approaches to reduce cost, expand coverage and increase choice and competition for Americans," she added. "I look forward to moving this legislation forward before the holiday recess."  

Landrieu is one of 10 Senate Democrats who have huddled together throughout December to develop a healthcare compromise that could appeal to the party's liberals and centrists equally.

Central to their agreement is a provision that would permit Americans beginning at age 55 to buy into the Medicare program. That would replace the public option -- which Landrieu has long disliked -- provided Democrats can find the necessary votes.

Nevertheless, Landrieu, one of the coalition's five centrists, has previously described the "buy in" proposal as a "good idea." But she has made explicit that she would wait for an official cost estimate before rendering an official judgment.

Interestingly enough, she did not mention it in her press release this evening, noting only the party still had "some work to do" on healthcare reform.

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