Lieberman and Nelson: Public option compromise still not good enough

Two key senators criticized the most recent healthcare compromise Sunday, saying the policies replacing the public option are still unacceptable.

Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) both said a Medicare "buy-in" option for those aged 55-64 was a deal breaker.

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"I'm concerned that it's the forerunner of single payer, the ultimate single-payer plan, maybe even more directly than the public option," Nelson said on CBS's "Face the Nation."

Lieberman said Democrats should stop looking for a public option "compromise" and simply scrap the idea altogether.

"You've got to take out the Medicare buy-in. You've got to forget about the public option," he said.

If Democrats stick to relying primarily on the bill's subsidies, the legislation would pass easily and with bipartisan support, Lieberman argued.

Nelson's comments are somewhat surprising, considering he was one of the 10 Democrats tasked with putting together the compromise.

He said this morning that he participated simply "to be a friend of the process."

"What we've put together is something to get scored," he said.

Most Democrats still don't know what exactly the compromise entails. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has sent the bill to the Congressional Budget Office but will not release the details until a score is final.

Lieberman said this morning that Reid fears the new compromise proposals would "get mauled" if they're released without a score to back them up.

Indeed, another senate centrist said this morning that her vote would be decided by the results of the CBO score.

Speaking on "Fox News Sunday," Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) said she would not vote for any bill that doesn't reduce the deficit and bring down healthcare costs.

If those two criteria aren't met, "we'll have to go back to the drawing board," she said.

Meanwhile, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) remained optimistic, arguing that as a final vote nears senators will come around.

"The closer you get, the more you have to look at the whole bill, and you say, 'I have to do this for the nation,'" he said.