Medicare buy-in will likely disappear from senate bill

It's not 100% official but senators working on a compromise to the health care reform bill seem to have given up hope that the Medicare buy-in - or any public option for that matter - will be in the final package.

Joe Lieberman has apparently derailed this notion, despite saying a few months ago that he would support a Medicare buy-in. Allah at Hot Air has some interesting thoughts:

Lieberman said he can (read: will) vote for the bill without the public plan provisions. Reaction, straight off the top of my head: (1) Kind of surprising that neither Snowe nor Collins defected to bail Reid out, eh? Now that he's back to 60-ish, I wonder if they or Nelson, Bayh, Lincoln, etc. will suddenly ramp up their own demands. (2) The Democrats are so frantic to pass something at this point - e.g., there was a rumor floated earlier today that Emanuel was pressuring Reid to use reconciliation - that Pelosi will almost certainly want to ping-pong the Senate bill. Will the absence of a public option convince Blue Dogs who voted no on the House bill to vote yes this time or will the gruesome polling scare them away? If they do vote yes, are there enough of them to make up for the number of House progressives who will surely vote no this time? (3) Further to the last point, what about the abortion conflict now? The House bill banned abortion funding, the Senate bill allows it. If Bart Stupak and his pro-life Blue Dogs are serious, they can probably kill the whole project. I wonder if Reid will let Nelson reintroduce an abortion funding ban in the Senate and force it through to eliminate that problem. I still don't see how they're getting this all done by New Year's, though.

The danger, as Allah points out, is that other senate moderates might now be emboldened to try and cut their own deals. Ben Nelson especially, might be accommodated by a re-introduction of his anti-abortion amendment. Landrieu and Lincoln want changes in Medicare cost reduction.

In their eagerness to get something passed, senate Democrats may very well screw the pooch in the House, as Allah points out, although I think the number of Blue Dogs that will be picked up and the number of progressives who will jump ship may be tiny. But with the final vote in the House at 220-215, it won't take but a few either way to tip the balance.

The president has called all 60 Democrats over to the White House today for a sit down. This is largely for show. Obama has yet to put his foot down about anything in the bill and he is not likely to start now. This meeting is to put pressure on senate Democratic moderates to get with the program, drop their demands, and vote. If senators take a peek at the latest Obama approval rating as well as the latest public polls on reform, they may very well decide to ignore the president and continue to work for something they can vote for.

Expect Reid to really ratchet up the pressure this week so debate can end and a vote scheduled.

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