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Healthcare holdouts: Joe Lieberman won't budge on public option

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Independent streak

Famously independent, Lieberman was abandoned by most Democratic leaders in the 2006 reelection race in his home state, and he nearly lost. His decision to sit with their caucus gave Democrats their 51st vote and bare majority in the previous Congress.

After Lieberman campaigned for GOP presidential candidate John McCain in 2008, some Democrats again called for his ouster from the caucus – or at least stripping his chairmanship of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Senate majority leader Harry Reid opted to let him keep his gavel.

Lieberman now says he is waiting to see some paper on the public-option deal and to see what the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reports about its cost. Any hint of a public option plan with a “trigger” and he will back a GOP filibuster of the bill, Lieberman says.

He’s also concerned about the prospect of a Medicare buy-in proposal, expected to be in the final version of this deal, that extends eligibility to people as young as 55.

“We must remain vigilant about protecting and extending the solvency of the program, which is now in a perilous financial condition,” he says.

Lieberman and Sen. Susan Collins (R) of Maine are cosponsoring a bipartisan package of amendments that mandate more transparency for insurers and healthcare providers and to rein in costs.

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