Senators dislike early buy-in for Medicare users

WASHINGTON — A plan to let people as young as 55 buy into Medicare ran into resistance Sunday from lawmakers who can make or break Democrats' efforts to reshape the nation's health insurance system.

Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut declared the early Medicare buy-in a bad deal . He pleaded with Democrats to start subtracting expensive proposals from the overhaul, saying, "We don't need to keep adding onto the back of this horse or we're going to break the horse's back and get nothing done."

Government accountants are poring over compromise proposals to see how much they would cost.

In the meantime, only a few moderates have come out against the Medicare plan. But in a legislative struggle that is a game of inches, Democrats need all 60 votes in their caucus, and they don't yet have them.

"I think it's going to pass out of the Senate before Christmas," President Obama told CBS' "60 Minutes" in an interview airing Sunday night. Lieberman said there was a chance, if Democrats "bring in some Republicans who are open-minded."

But Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell said no way: "With the American people as overwhelming opposed to this bill as they are, for the Democrats to basically arrogantly take the position that we're going to ignore public opinion and jam this through before Christmas, I think that's really a stretch."