Senate Republican Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) on Tuesday said a partisan approach to health reform this fall would "wreck our healthcare system and wreck the Democratic Party," raising the stakes of a go-it-alone strategy that Democratic leaders are considering.

At 59 votes with the passing of Sen. Edward Kennedy (Mass.), Democrats have said they will consider the use of a legislative tactic called reconciliation that could allow chunks of health reform legislation to be passed with a simple majority of 51 votes, instead of the 60 that normally would be required to overcome procedural obstacles.

Alexander said that town hall meetings last month demonstrated most Americans are opposed to reform and that Democrats should heed the message.

"The intensity on this across the country is something that I haven’t seen before," Alexander said. "If they thought that one party was going to try to ram through a proposal that would increase the debt, there’d be a minor revolution."

Alexander also predicted such a strategy would yield a "Swiss cheese" approach because the Senate parliamentarian would be forced to prohibit votes on large sections of the bill that may be considered irrelevant to deficit reduction.

The Tennessee Republican said he opposes any government funding for end-of-life consultations between doctors and patients, but said the GOP would support the creation of insurance pools that could help small businesses offer coverage to their employees. He said the party remains concerned with the possibility of Democrats adding in more liberal provisions during House-Senate conference talks, however.

Alexander said Republican senators Mike Enzi of Wyoming, Olympia Snowe of Maine and Charles Grassley of Iowa are free to continue negotiating with Democrats on the Finance Committee, and that they may support a bipartisan bill on their own. The three have been given no formal marching orders by other Republicans other than a request to keep them informed and a general idea of what the conference will and will not support.

Updated at 4:56 p.m.