After Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) let it be known that he would filibuster a health care reform bill with Medicare buy-in, many bloggers, including ThinkProgress, pointed out that he campaigned in favor of such a proposal in 2000 and reiterated that support just three months ago. In an effort to explain the flip-flop, Lieberman spokesperson Erika Masonhall told the Daily Beast that Lieberman changed his position after the health care reform bill reported out of the Senate Finance Committee “contained extensive health insurance reforms” that “would benefit” those between 55 and 64 who would be eligible for the buy-in. Masonhall says extending Medicare would thus be “duplicative”:
Masonhall explained to The Daily Beast via e-mail. “Senator Lieberman’s comment reported by the Connecticut Post in September was made before the Finance Committee reported out the Baucus bill, which contained extensive health insurance reforms, including a more narrow age rating for pricing health insurance premiums and extensive affordability credits that would benefit this specific group of individuals. These health insurance reforms and affordability credits have been strengthened in Senator Reid’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and will provide even greater relief for those 55-65 years old. Any inclusion of a Medicare buy-in for that same age group would be duplicative of what is already in the bill, would put the government on the hook for billions of additional dollars, and would potentially threaten the solvency of Medicare, which is already in a perilous state.
Unmentioned by Masonhall, however, is the fact that Lieberman told Don Imus in October that he opposed the Finance Committee bill because he thought it was “trying to do too much” and was “actually going to raise the price of insurance for most of the people in the country.”