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Lieberman, Nelson Raise Doubts Over Senate Health Bill

WASHINGTON (CN) - Two senators in the Democratic caucus raised concerns they will not vote for the Senate health bill because of a compromise that would allow 55-year-olds to buy into Medicare. The statements, made Sunday by Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., and Ben Nelson, D-Nebraska, dealt a blow to the Democratic effort, which needs the support of all 60 caucus members.

Assuming that the bill garners no Republican support, Senate leaders could fall at least 2 votes short of the 60 they need to move it forward.

But the news is not a death knell for the bill, which continues to be amended.

Sixty votes are needed to end debate, but once that hurdle is cleared only 51 votes are needed to pass the bill, which already won the 60 votes it needed to be brought to the floor.

The Medicare buy-in was a compromise hammered out after Democrats did away with the government-run public option.

Lieberman said the buy-in would be too costly for the government and allegedly warned that he would join a potential Republican boycott if the buy-in is included.

Nelson criticized the measure as a forerunner to a single-payer system like that in France.

and Nelson criticized it as a forerunner to a single-payer system, like that in France.

A vote on the Senate bill was expected by early next week, but disagreements appear to have postponed that indefinitely.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said he does not expect the bill to pass before Christmas.

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