Senate Democrats have dropped plans to a provision allowing55-year-olds without coverage to buy into Medicare.

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The proposal to let uninsured Americans between 55 and 64 yearsold enroll in Medicare had been put forward to gain the support ofall 60 Democratic caucus members, particularly Sen. JosephLieberman (I-CT), for a government insurance plan.

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Among other provisions, the plan would have allowed peoplewithout healthcare coverage access to the insurance plan forfederal employees. That plan would have been administered by thefederal Office of Personnel Management, which runs the federalplan.

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That decision was regarded as a good one by John Greene, vicepresident of congressional affairs for the National Assn. of HealthUnderwriters. He said the public option is being misrepresented andwould be an administrative nightmare.

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Greene said that allowing people to buy into the federal programwould be "an administrative nightmare." Separating employees of thefederal government from everyone else would "add significantadministrative burdens and for a purpose not associated withemployment in the government."

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The Democrats began to back off from the public option during aMonday night caucus. They faced public opposition from Sen. JoeLieberman, I-Conn., and concern by moderate Democrats.

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The part of the plan that Sen. Lieberman objected to was theMedicare component.

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On Dec. 15, Senate Democrats huddled with President Barack Obamaat the White House about how to pass the measure before the holidaybreak. They hope to hold a final vote on the legislation by Dec.23, MSNBC and Politico both report.

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Read more about healthcare reform.

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